Walt Disney's Mobile Game Character Swampy Gets Web Series (Exclusive)
NEW YORK - Swampy, the sewer-dwelling alligator that is the protagonist of Walt Disney’s iPhone/iPad video game Where’s My Water? is getting a Web video series.
Where’s My Water?, the Adventures of Swampy will begin with a 12 episode season, featuring 3-4 minute weekly animated episodes. The first episode will formally launch in January. In December, a preview or pilots of sorts will come to Disney.com. Beyond the initial 12 episodes, the company has plans for a story arc that allows to extend the show if the reception is positive.
Given the successful start of the mobile game, its first for which the company created an original character, Disney feels the character has resonated so well with audiences that it has green lit an original animated series for Disney Online. The 99 cents game has reached well more than 1 million downloads since its Sept. 22 launch, according to a spokesman for the Disney Interactive Media Group.
Swampy is an alligator who lives in the sewers below a metropolis and has an unusual quirk: he can’t stand being dirty. As a result, he tries to get clean water to his underground apartment, so he can shower. In the game, players must help Swampy by digging paths to guide water to his subterranean bathtub.
Meanwhile, Cranky, the Alpha Gator, always tampers with Swampy’s plumbing to stop his water flow. And both alligators' love interest is female alligator Ally.
It was a first for Disney to develop an original character for a mobile game and a milestone for the company in original intellectual property developed for a non-traditional screen. Its success "is an important and encouraging sign of Disney’s enthusiasm for this character," a spokesman said.
"The continued demand and excitement about Swampy clearly indicates that there are a lot of folks out there who are interested not only in the game, but also want to know more about the story," said Mark Walker, senior vp of Disney.com. "We are looking to build out the world and tell Swampy's story and that of other characters."
Asked about likely storyline of the Web series, Walker said "we will learn a lot more about Swampy and his friends and the conditions he lives under." Also, viewers will find out more about how Cranky and Swampy try to impress Ally and the dynamics between the characters. "We expect that the world of characters will grow more rich as the game becomes more rich and as we discover new friends within the video series," he added.
Disney didn't disclose the production budget of the Web series. The production team behind it is led by executive producer Chris Williams, vp and general manager of Disney Online Originals, who is looking to bring together the writing, production and voice talent.
Could any famous actors voice Swampy and the other characters in the Web series? "It's really more about finding the right voice for the character," said Walker. "That might well be someone with whom we work with in the broader Disney family. It probably will not be, but I wouldn't foreclose that…I don't think it's necessary to the success of the program."
Could Swampy go on to possible film or TV stardom following the Web series? Without predicting possible future steps, Walker said: "It's fair to say that there is tremendous excitement all around Disney for these characters largely based on the success of the game. People throughout the company have taken note of the tremendous success of Where Is My Water."
Asked about possible ways to make money off the online series, Walker said his team is looking at sponsorships and other opportunities. "At Disney.com, we have a great deal of respect for our audience, and we seek to be family-friendly, so any monetization would be consistent with Disney.com's approach overall," said Walker.
After its release, Where Is My Water? immediately rose to the top spot in the ranking of the most popular products in Apple's paid app store, remaining number one in the U.S. for three weeks and overtaking another animal-themed game app, the popular Angry Birds.
It reached the top spot in 30 countries and counting. As of Wednesday evening, Where Is My Water? ranked at number 6 of the list of top paid apps for the iPad and number 15 of top iPhone apps.
Observers took the success of the game as a sign that established entertainment companies can success against gaming upstarts and that Disney is focused on turning around its gaming business.