Disney’s new mobile game shows the influence of Nintendo’s crossover strategy

Disney characters at a Pixar premiere in Hollywood, California
Disney characters at a Pixar premiere in Hollywood, California
Image: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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A new game will allow fans to pit Disney characters like Elsa from Frozen against Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, bringing to video games the cross-pollination of characters typically only encountered at Disney’s theme parks 

Disney Melee Mania, was developed by Singapore-based Mighty Bear Games and is coming exclusively to the Apple Arcade subscription service for Apple mobile devices next month. 

“Fans will compete with arcade-style Disney and Pixar champions in a fun and frenzied all-out brawl to survive the chaotic melee and stay in the spotlight,” Mighty Bear Games CEO Simon Davis said in a statement.

Disney is leveraging the cross-marketing opportunities of its characters

In recent years, Disney has supported character mashup games in virtual reality through titles like Marvel: Powers United VR for the Oculus gaming platform from Facebook, now called Meta. But those Marvel characters existed in the same general universe, whereas Disney Melee Mania is more like the cross-universe play of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros

Like the Nintendo set-up, Disney’s new game immerses players in a three-on-three battle that included characters like Frozone (from Pixar’s The Incredibles), Mickey Mouse, Wreck-It Ralph, Moana, and Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty).

The trailer reveals that it isn’t a simple shoot ’em up game. Frozone emits ice rays and Wreck-It Ralph uses his fists as he does in the movies—each character is a true representation of its traditionally animated version.

The Nintendo lesson: fans love mashups

Previously, Disney’s characters kept to their own movies and did not intermingle. Snow White never encountered Bambi, and Mulan never met Ariel. But there’s a very good reason Disney has decided to mix up its precious characters in one gaming space. In 2019, Super Smash Bros. became the best-selling fighting game series of all time, with five Super Smash titles selling a total of 53 million units. And the latest version of the game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, has become the best-selling entry in the series with nearly 26 million sold. 

If Disney can achieve even a portion of Nintendo’s franchise-blending success, it will have yet another stream of revenue to power its way into its future metaverse ambitions, brand adjacency strategy expansions, and other franchise crossover content.