04/30/2014 01:52 EDT | Updated 06/30/2014 05:59 EDT

Disney adding Marvel superheroes to 'Infinity' toy-and-game franchise

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Buzz Lightyear, meet Captain America.

Walt Disney Co. is adding several Marvel superheros to its toys-meets-game series "Disney Infinity." The company announced plans Wednesday to bring more than 20 such characters — beginning with "The Avengers" members Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor and Hulk — to a new installment of the franchise.

"Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes" is set for release this fall for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The new version of "Infinity" will include several updates, including more combat abilities and vehicles like motorcycles.

"We wanted to take everything that worked so well and make it epic," said Jimmy Pitaro, president of Disney Interactive, during an event Wednesday at Pacific Theatres' Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.

"Infinity" uses real-life toy figures to depict Disney personalities in a sprawling virtual toy box where those characters can do things like race vehicles, create and play games and construct locales — solo or co-operatively — as well as embark on adventures in their own realms. Each toy figure stores and transmits the character's history through a reader.

The superheroes will join characters as Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story," Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and Anna and Elsa from "Frozen." The previously released Disney characters will be compatible with the new edition of "Infinity."

Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada said the new characters would be "uniquely Marvel but still fit within the game."

"Infinity" closely resembles the successful "Skylanders" franchise from Activision Blizzard Inc. However, Disney's rendition relies on better-known characters and adds an open-world toy box mode akin to "Minecraft," where users' imaginations can run wild, for example, plopping the pirate Jack Sparrow into Cinderella's coach.

Earlier this month, Activision announced plans for an Oct. 5 update to its "Skylanders" toys-meets-game franchise called "Trap Team" that allows players to take control of enemies in the game and store them on unique colour-coded toy crystals in the real world. "Skylanders," which launched in 2011, currently boasts 175 different toy characters.

Pitaro said Wednesday that 3 million "Infinity" starter parks have been sold and the franchise has generated $500 million in sales since it launched last August.

Disney' interactive division, which has been responsible for games like the Mickey Mouse console adventure "Epic Mickey" and the online virtual world "Club Penguin," had long been a money-losing unit. Earlier this year, it posted only its third profitable quarter since results began being broken out in 2008, thanks in part to the success of "Infinity."