How Did Disney Not Do MultiVersus First?

MultiVersus has become an unmitigated, and perhaps somewhat unexpected, hit in a very short space of time. Right now the game is still in its first season, and technically still in its open beta to boot. Despite that, more than 20 million people have played the game, and you'd be hard-pushed to find a bad word said about it. Well, not that hard-pushed. You can find negative comments about pretty much anything on social media without having to look all that hard.

What I'm trying to say is there hasn't been any MultiVersus discourse. No large groups of players labeling certain elements or the whole thing terrible. That seemed likely when early indicators that MultiVersus was a thing started to appear online. Warner Bros. gathering up its IP and pitting them in a Super Smash Bros. clone felt like a bad idea, probably because those first rumors started to circulate shortly after Space Jam 2 hit cinemas.

The game isn't bad at all. Far from it. It's actually pretty great. A lot of thought and work has gone onto it, not only to make sure it lasts the test of time but also so that it doesn't just feel like a cheap copy of Smash Ultimate with Tom and Jerry subbed in for the Ice Climbers. MultiVersus is so good, in fact, that you have to imagine higher-ups at Disney are now kicking themselves for not doing it first.

As has already been demonstrated by its opening roster, the new characters added already, and the fighters rumored to be coming in the future, Warner Bros. has a smorgasbord of IP to choose from for the game's future. That almost endless list is nowhere near as endless as Disney's, though. Not only does it have almost a century of its own stuff to throw into a theoretical fighting game, but it also has every hero who has ever and will ever appear in the MCU, any Star Wars character from a galaxy far, far away, and even characters created by Fox. Maggie Simpson vs. Baby Yoda. Where do I send my money?

With a vault of characters like that at its disposal, Disney could have created a fighting game with a roster unlike anything ever created before. Something even Nintendo couldn't touch. A juggernaut that could have been added to for years, potentially forever. It's probably fair to say MultiVersus has now filled that void. A void that was left empty for almost a year after Sora officially rounded out the Smash Ultimate roster. The window of opportunity may have already slammed shut for Disney, but have its heads been left feeling foolish for not acting faster, or do they simply not care?

Despite the classic games Disney used to create based on its movies (Toy Story, The Lion King, Aladdin, Hercules, there are so many) its relationship with the industry today is a little more complicated. Yes, there are enough Marvel games in development right now to keep fans occupied for another five-year blip, and a Jedi: Fallen Order sequel is on the way for Star Wars fans, but games that incorporate everything that is traditionally Disney in 2022 are a little different.

Dreamlight Valley will have launched by the time you read this, and a Disney trading card game has also been announced. Both will likely be pretty entertaining and almost definitely very popular, but in the eyes of Disney, their success will be measured by one thing and one thing only. How much money they make. Dreamlight Valley has likely been built on the hope that a large chunk of players spend money on optional extras and the ability to progress at a faster rate than others. It can certainly be argued that's exactly the same foundation on which MultiVersus is built, especially since it is free-to-play. However, I've sunk more hours than I care to share here into MultiVersus, especially considering how bad I still am at it, but I'm yet to spend a single penny and I probably never will. Most importantly of all, I don't feel like I'm having a lesser experience for not spending money in MultiVersus, nor do I believe for a second that its creators would ever want me to feel that way.

Early indicators strongly suggest it won't be as easy to play and enjoy Dreamlight Valley nearly as much without forking out a little cash, and it goes without saying that money will need to be spent on its card game. Perhaps this is unfair of me to say, but it doesn't feel as if Dreamlight Valley will enjoy the same level of success and exposure as MultiVersus when it comes to mainstream coverage and sheer player count. I'd like to think Disney is watching how big of an impact MultiVersus has made and wishes it had gone in a different direction with its games. The more likely scenario is it doesn't care.

Somewhere along the way, Disney lost touch with the video game world. Well, at the least the part it used to serve via its movie-based games. While microtransaction-fueled games loaded with IP and very little innovation and imagination are the present and future of video games for some, it's a shame Disney isn't trying something new. Its own MultiVersus could have been and might still be that, but if it were to do it now and not seriously tweak the formula, it would quite rightly be accused of hopping aboard the Smash bandwagon MultiVersus has successfully managed to transform.

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