While Disney Infinity is supposedly not completely inspired by Activision's Skylanders, which is tailored for the 6-12 year old market, it moves the idea of using collectible toys to play video games to a whole other level. You see, Skylanders is a game where you take toy figurines, put them on a portal base that plugs into your gaming system and that toy allows you to play that character in the game. While Skylanders is a brand new IP with very little history, Disney has an 85+ year history of characters starting with Mickey Mouse and including Pixar's toy box of characters, the super-heroes from Marvel's mighty bullpen, and everyone from a galaxy far, far away.
Let's start there. The Lucasfilm brand was arguably built on merchandise such as action figures which are collected by millions of fans from around the globe. Now here comes a new wave of possibilities that will put the action in those collectible action figures. While Disney will start with tie-in figures for the forthcoming Monsters University, can you imagine what they'll have ready for 2015 and the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy? These just won't be clone troopers with different paint (although that may happen, too), but each figure you buy will have a purpose in the game. While the game may be less that the usual $60, the figurines range in price from $10-$15. You want to play as Han, Luke, and Leia? That'll be another $30-$45. You want to just collect the figures instead of play with them? That'll be another $30-$45.
You want to play as an Avenger or X-Man? Well get out your Disney credit card and get to the store now! Or wait until Avengers 2 comes out where you can buy the tie-in figurines and smash up New York with Hulk and Thor against Zorg, Buzz Lightyear's nemesis.
Disney Infinity opens up the possibility of Luke Skywalker racing Lightning McQueen from Radiator Falls to Beggar's Canyon, or Peter Pan dueling with Darth Vader instead of Captain Hook. Jack Sparrow sailing the seven seas with Steamboat Willie!
The game will also have a "pog" element where you can buy a pack of five coins and put one of those coins under your figurine so you can literally power-up your character. The secondary market is going to go nuts with this game!
Does this change everything? Probably not, but it moves it into a much larger world.