Having conquered animation, live-action, television and movies, Disney is slowly moving towards a new level of online dominance, thanks to a little alligator called Swampy. After starring in a mobile game called Where’s My Water? that has racked up over 100,000,000 downloads, Disney has plans to turn Swampy into a transmedia icon with a new animated series that’ll be streamed on both Disney’s own website and YouTube starting next month.
Originally released in September 2011, Where’s My Water? has seen multiple updates since, originally on a monthly basis (October, November and December saw new chapters being added to the game), and then on an irregular basis following (After a three month gap, updates were released in March, April, May and June of this year, before again going on hiatus until September). Talking to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney Mobile Games SVP and General Manager Bart Decrem described the game as “an amazingly productive game,” saying that “we’ve expanded on this game about twice as fast as any other major game series, while continuing to put quality first.”
“It’s incredible to think how six months after launching on the App Store, consumers were able to buy Swampy plush toys, apparel and accessories at major retailers,” he said, discussing the brand expansion of the game (Besides the animated series and game updates, a line of Swampy merchandise has been released, available at Disney theme parks and other retail outlets). “Since then, the line of Swampy merchandise has grown quite a bit. You can get Swampy pins at Disneyland, a fun collection of Swampy’s favorite duckies, and Hasbro just launched a Swampy board game. For Halloween this year, we even have a Swampy costume.”
Decrem calls Where’s My Water “a huge opportunity for Disney, with probably more opportunities than almost any other mobile game when you look across the company,” going on to say that mobile gaming in general is “such an important platform for the company.” He continues, “a whole new generation of Disney guests is growing up with their iPhones, iPads or Android devices as a primary screen — not to mention huge new markets like China and India opening up for the company. We have a huge opportunity to bring existing Disney characters and stories to life on this magical new canvas, but also to create new Disney characters here — characters that hopefully will stand the test of time.”
The company is definitely pushing for more mobile gaming publishing, with games attached to Phineas and Ferb and Frankenweenie having been released in the last few months. But, while those games featured existing Disney franchises, Where’s My Water demonstrates the true value for Disney of mobile gaming: An easy – and relatively cheap – way for the company to introduce all-new characters to the public, and create all-new franchises that can be expanded into television, movies and beyond.