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With Swampy The Alligator, Disney Takes Aim At The Angry Birds Empire

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While most studios team up with developers to create games that support existing properties, Disney is going the opopsite direction with the release of their latest iOS game. Their goal for Swampy the Alligator here isn’t just to snag the top spot for app purchases: they want to see him break into movies and merch too.

In short, they want this alligator to be like the Angry Birds.

Swampy stars in Disney Mobile’s “Where’s My Water?”, and while he lives in the sewers, he’s (ironically) a bit of a clean freak. Players must direct water into Swampy’s shoddy plumbing by cutting paths through the ground, all so Swampy can get his much-needed shower.

A few quick minutes playing the game has confirmed my suspicions: it already seems to have the same addictive charm that made Cut The Rope and Angry Birds such efficient timewasters.

Methinks that’s exactly what Disney Mobile GM Bart Decrem had in mind. Formerly the CEO of Tapulous, makers of one of iOS’s first rhythm games, Decrem has a very keen awareness of what gives a mobile game the “stickiness” that keeps players coming back.

He notes in an interview with the AP that the mobile space is huge with Disney’s target audience, saying that “this is where a generation of kids is growing up.” He thinks it’s important for Disney to be able to tell compelling new stories on a platform that kids are falling in love with.

Decrem has also said that one of the goals of the launch was to “incubate new characters that can cross over into other Disney business units like movies and merchandise.” Even if Swampy doesn’t quite make it, it seems it’s now a priority for Disney Mobile to take on the Angry Birds.

Angry Birds, if you’ve been lucky enough to live under a rock for the past few months, has spawned a truly obscene amount of merch. Angry Birds clothing, toys, and (less officially) Chinese moon pies have all been spotted, and there’s even word that a movie is in the works. It’s a lofty goal for Disney to shoot for, but one that they’re uniquely equipped to take advantage of if Swampy’s fame transcends his game.

Assuming the interest is there, a Swampy movie could become a reality sooner than expected because Disney can essentially do all the production work in-house. Of course, the company also already has the connections with manufacturers to quickly (and cheaply) churn out gobs of Swampy merchandise. Disney has proven themselves to have considerable muscle when it comes to cross-promotion too, so if this app happens to take off, expect to see Swampy toys in your kid’s Happy Meal before too long.

The game has just gone live in the App Store today, and it’ll run you $.99 — we’ll have to see if Disney’s ambitions are realized, but it’s a great timewaster nonetheless.