Of course, Disney's involvement in videogaming isn't exactly new. Disney began licensing some of its characters for use in videogames some thirty years ago, and had established its own in-house gaming unit in 1988. However, as Kohler notes, those efforts were aimed at bringing existing characters into the gaming market rather than creating new characters. Even 2010's hit Epic Mickey brings back Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey's precursor. Disney lost the rights to Oswald quite early, which led to his creation of Mickey Mouse and contributing to Disney's famous (or infamous) emphasis - bordering on obsession - on keeping and maintaining IP rights.
Enter Swampy, an alligator and leading character in Disney's successful smartphone game app Where's My Water.
In addition to the success of the game app, Swampy's entered Disney's merchandising efforts.
“This is maybe the first time in Disney’s history where we have a character that was created solely for a videogame product that is now branching in other directions,” says Disney Interactive Media Group vice president Bill Roper.Roper hopes that the unit's Originals group can produce new worlds and characters that can tradition into other markets - shows for the Disney Channel, animated features, and more -
“There’s been discussions about, can we have Swampy be a walkaround character somewhere? For example, in Orlando in the water parks?”It doesn't hurt that Disney's next big animation release, Wreck-It Ralph, is a nostalgic paen to classic arcade games (trailer). I'd look for a lot more gaming characters and worlds cross over to other markets.
Source - How Videogames are Changing Disney, Wired.com