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Disney embraces social messaging app Line with global game rollout

Disney?s expansion of a top-ranked Japanese mobile puzzle application worldwide underscores the entertainment conglomerate?s embrace of social gaming to engage mass audiences.

Disney launched Line: Disney Tsum Tsum, a free app from Japan, on mobile devices globally. Published by Line, a free call and messaging app, Disney Tsum Tsum has been downloaded more than 14 million times, earning the No. 1 free-app ranking on both iOS and Android in Japan.  The rollout underscores how companies recognize that games connected to a mobile chat app contain the power to engage huge groups of people.

Change in direction
The rollout of the Japanese item marks a departure for Disney, which has rarely introduced a distinctly Japanese product to a global audience. 

The game lets players connect to a Line account, so they can compare their scores with friends or gift in-app purchases to other players.

The objective for players ? who can be adults or children ? is to try to connect and pop as many of the Disney Tsum characters as possible in one minute.  Scores climb with the elimination of each Tsum within levels. As they progress through the game, players collect characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Buzz Lightyear, each of whom can be leveled up over time and has the power to provide in-game help.

By connecting to a Line account, adult players can compete for high scores on leaderboards and give gifts of points to friends.

In addition to the mobile app, a wide range of companion Tsum Tsum soft toys based on favorite Disney characters, from Mickey Mouse to Winnie the Pooh, will be available, with additional characters rolling out in the fall. 

A Disney Store in Japan sold 1.6 million Tsum Tsum toys in the past nine months.

Betting on mobile
Disney is betting big on mobile. In a national TV, print and out-of-home advertising campaign, it showcased its Disney Mobile Magic App mobile application and included a prominently placed mobile call-to-action to encourage downloads. The Disney Mobile Magic App is the official app for Disney Parks on Verizon.
Disney's game-app had more than 14 million downloads in Japan. 

Disney also showed a commitment to mobile when it announced a film marketing partnership with shopping-channel HSN in what the company claimed was its first partnership with an omnichannel retailer. The programs included unique mobile, digital and television marketing to support themed merchandise.
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.