Todays Stories

Disney Dreamlight Valley Developer Talks New Characters, Roadmap, and More

Disney Dreamlight Valley released last September in early access, and developer Gameloft has spent the months since adding a steady stream of content. This week, Gameloft revealed a new roadmap for Dreamlight Valley, and much of the content players can expect to see released throughout 2023. Readers can check that out right here, but had a chance to speak with Gameloft’s Manea Castet and Claire Llewellyn about the roadmap, as well as other burning questions about the Disney game.

For those unfamiliar with the game, Disney Dreamlight Valley is a life-sim, similar to titles like Stardew Valley, or Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Players can participate in activities like fishing and fruit picking, or work on creating their ideal residence. The biggest difference is that the world is populated by iconic Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Merlin, Scrooge McDuck, and Moana. Thus far, the game has seen multiple updates, adding more Disney icons, including Scar, Woody, and Buzz Lightyear. Later this year, the game will become free-to-play, though it’s currently exclusively available through Xbox Game Pass, or by purchasing one of multiple Founder’s Pack options.

Keep reading to see what Gameloft said about Disney Dreamlight Valley!


(Photo: Gameloft)

ComicBook: Disney Dreamlight Valley released in early access in September of last year. How has the game been performing so far?

Manea Castet: Amazing. Honestly, it’s above expectations in all topics: performance, revenue, reviews. We got overwhelmingly positive on Steam; we got really nice reviews in general. This is literally the biggest launch ever at Gameloft in all of Gameloft’s history, so we could not be happier. It’s great, a lot of players. We are currently at the peak of concurrent players, so it’s cool also that it’s lasting since September and we have a lot of really cool feedback from the community.

ComicBook: Have the majority of players come from people who’ve bought the Founder’s Pack or people who are Xbox Game Pass subscribers?

Castet: Won’t give too much detail, but at launch, we have a nice mix of both I would say, but as time goes, it’s more people purchasing the packs.



ComicBook: So has the game’s initial success been surprising to you guys since it’s currently a paid title but it’s set to go free-to-play?

Castet: We choose this strategy because we felt it was the right one and we wanted to get the game, even if it was not finished, not ready for a full free-to-play release, to get it in the hand of the player to get the feedback as soon as possible. So we were not surprised of the success. We were not expecting so much success, but we could not be up here, of course. The surprise came more like [from the] gigantic positivity around the game. It’s crazy to see all these nice comments, like the feedback on all topics, also the way people took the game and brought it way further than we anticipated. Like the touch of magic tool creation with people doing crazy outfits; it’s amazing to see the stuff like that that we didn’t know it was even possible. Same with the way they customize their valley or their house. They do some combination. So the surprise, is more on the fact that people are really enjoying the game and making it theirs.

ComicBook: Now, the game’s roadmap for 2023 has some really interesting new developments, but the full release isn’t listed. Is that still part of the team’s plan for this year?

Castet: So the plans haven’t changed unlike the full release in somewhere in 2023. I would say that the roadmap you see is more like… let’s say early 2023 roadmap. We share a lot of what’s coming soon-ish, but there is way more planned for this year. And even if we don’t have anything to announce specifically on the full free-to-play release now in this call, it is still the plan somewhere in 2023. Just the fact that we don’t communicate a lot about it because we want to do step by step. First, we want to have a great game and meaning working in early access with the community, finishing the game.

As you know there is a main story that is not fully complete yet. We will add a big part of that and there will be a conclusion of act one in update five. So we really want to make sure we have a complete game. And also, we want to make sure we take the time to take the community feedback. I would say half of the updates is composed of community feedback. This topic about storage for the tree, each of that came with additional stuff that were prioritized or accelerated because the community asked for it. So for now, we focus on the early access and we don’t have a lot to share about the free-to-play release.


Fan Requests

ComicBook: What’s been the most surprising request the team has seen from fans thus far?

Castet: We get many, many requests on many topics. We got a lot of ballots. One of the not surprising one, but this one, I was not expecting, was a lot of people asking to have borders on the roads. It’s a really specific one. I knew people were going to ask for Disney characters. I knew people would ask [for other stuff] but was not expecting a big demand for having sides on the roads.

Claire Llewellyn: I think I really personally underpredicted how excited people would be for their organizational side of themselves. They’re really wanting extreme storage abilities, a lot of abilities to place tons of items on the grid. And really excited that some of those feedbacks and requests are now making it into updates, not necessarily visually on our roadmap, but for update three, we’re going to be adding an improved storage system. So excited for our fans to discover that after many, many demands for improved storage and many different storage hacks being shared… TikTok. YouTube. I think I underestimated just how organized people could get.

Castet: Yeah, it’s crazy to see all these people sharing their work, sharing their ideas, sharing their guides, their recommendations, their daily life. We even have people doing fan fiction about their character, which we love. It’s awesome.



(Photo: Gameloft)

ComicBook: One thing that I really like is that Dreamlight Valley offers cross saves, allowing players to access their content on any platform. How important was it for the team to have that feature this early on?

Castet: It was part of the concept from the beginning, being a PC/console game that you could start on one device and continue on the other. It was a challenge, of course, but as soon as we went PC/console, it was with that in mind. So it was there fairly early.


New characters

ComicBook: There are some really interesting new characters coming this year, including Mirabel from Encanto and Olaf from Frozen. How does the team go about picking which characters to include?

Castet: So the biggest rule is, is it adding something to our story? We want to tell a story with Disney Dreamlight Valley, like with as you know, the main story, but also the realm, side story with each character having their own little story after you unlock them from your realm. And the very first question is, is it adding something within the story we tell? After that, we also ask ourselves, is it a well known character or not? But we really don’t want to focus only on top performing or top known characters. We also have characters that will just be just perfect in this role, in this game. So we want to fix that and after that, we also discuss a lot with Disney, talk about their upcoming plans and what’s happening and trying to have a fit with that and having the accommodation. Also, it’s a dialogue with them to make sure we have a variety of characters for the game.

ComicBook: Do you guys have a dream character that you’d most like to bring in?

Castet: It’s hard. I have many dream characters. A lot of them are in. Some of them maybe are missing. I don’t have one dream character. I have some movies I would love to see because I think they will fit well in the game and I know that some upcoming movies are also cool and I will like to see them but I could not put one character. I was of course, a huge fan and I’m still a huge fan of Toy Story, so it was really a special moment for me to get Buzz and Woody in the game. Of course, I grew up with The Lion King also, so seeing Simba is special for me in the game, of course, but I could list a lot of characters like that.

Llewellyn: I think on my side, I’m a big Disney princess girl, ’90s baby. So we’re really excited to see us continue to grow and expand our princess lineup. And you see Belle featured on that roadmap towards the later half of 2023. So definitely excited to continue to grow our princess lineup.

ComicBook: Personally, I’d like to see Darkwing Duck. That would be a dream character for me.

Llewellyn: We hear a whole slew of different characters when we request fan insight on that end. Haven’t heard that one, though!


Marvel and Star Wars

ComicBook: Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, but those universes tend to be kept separate from other Disney media. Is there any chance we could see these characters added to the game in the future?

Castet: So Disney is big. There is always a big umbrella with a lot of IPs inside. So we are closing no doors but there is no plan that we want to discuss on such stage about any other than I would say Disney animation and Pixar. We really focus on this kind of character. There are many, many of them. A lot of characters are also requested by the committee that are not there yet, of course. And we want to focus on that. So nothing to share or add on regarding Star Wars or Marvel.



(Photo: Gameloft)

ComicBook: The roadmap mentions multiplayer plans for this year. Is there anything you can tell us about what players can expect in that regard?

Castet: So of course, we cannot share too much now because it’s still in development and we don’t want to get people disappointed if some stuff [doesn’t happen]. I could say that we plan several ways for the players to engage with each other. Won’t be just one way. It could be several ways. And the goal for us is of course, for player to offer but also to be able to show off the time they spend customizing their valley, their house, their outfit, having a way to show all that. The reason for doing this multiplayer is to make sure all this artwork you spend just customizing already, you will be able to show it to others and we give you tools to do so. The only thing I could say on this feature that a lot of people are expecting and we can’t wait to deliver.


Disney parks

ComicBook: In April, the game is going to feature a Star Path based on the Disney parks. Obviously, that’s something that really means a lot to a lot of Disney fans. Will the focus be just specifically the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, or will we see content based on Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom?

Castet: So the goal, I cannot share too much either, but the goal is really to make the player feel that it’s a great moment to be in the game to celebrate these parks that we all love and they mean a lot of stuff to all of us. We want to have a little bit of all the parks. So you should be able to see most of the parks or several parks at least. Not specifically one or two parks. But it’s also a way… the goal is not to say, okay, you build Epcot in Disney Dreamlight Valley. The goal is just to tweak your valley and get inspired by parks and that you have some iconic, how to say, not too much stuff, iconic items that you will currently recognize from the park that are now in your valley. Say, “ah, so cool. I have that in my valley.” And from big items to small items, we want to make it. It is going to be my favorite Star Path personally and it’s going to be great. And yeah, it’s not just one specific park.


Physical release

ComicBook: Once the game has gotten a full release for the free-to-play version, can players expect a physical version of the game at some point?

Castet: So nothing to announce on this topic. We are investigating all the other possibilities with the game. This is part of the thing we’re investigating, but we will share more information if we have more info to share later on this year.

ComicBook: There’s a growing concern about games being delisted from digital storefronts, especially when it comes to licensed games. We’ve seen it with games like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle. Is that something that the team thinks about, considering this is currently a digital exclusive?

Castet: This is something that is always in discussion and always in the mind when we work with a new game, with a new IP, making sure we deliver something that won’t disappoint the player at one point on this kind of stuff. But it’s not something… it’s global strategies at Gameloft that is applied to many games, not just ours, so I personally have not a lot of things to share on this topic. It will be more like a higher strategy at Gameloft. What is sure is that we will make everything to make sure we don’t disappoint [fans] on this topic.



(Photo: Gameloft)

ComicBook: How long does Gameloft plan to support Disney Dreamlight Valley? Is there a timeframe? Is there a goal?

Castet: As long if we have people enjoying Disney Dreamlight Valley, I would say. Of course, there is not a deadline or a thing. It’s a game that is meant to be played for years. It’s almost as infinite as the amount of Disney characters and as infinite, because at the time we, maybe we will have all of them in the game. For sure, they will add new [characters] with the movies. It’s really meant to be a life-sim adventure that will be like, I won’t say Game as a Service, but it’s more like a living game that will be always changing, always adding for years and years. So we don’t know what the future holds and we don’t know what will happen in two or three years. But for sure, the plan is there is no end date. We really want to get this… also, this cycle of having updates every six to eight weeks approximately with new characters and new content, we don’t plan to stop that. We want again to feel fresh regularly. So yeah, no end dates in mind for now.

ComicBook: You mentioned living games, Games as a Service titles. Can we expect in the future to see content that’s timed specifically to release alongside a movie?

Castet: We do want to celebrate everything Disney. We want this game to be one of the best, if not the best place to celebrate everything Disney. So it includes a new movie release or a new stuff. So yeah, we could imagine that to celebrate a new movie, you get a new cool outfit that comes with this movie or new customization item that would be released at the same time as the movie. Yes, exactly. We have that a little bit with the 100th anniversary Star Path that is the first Star Path on the roadmap you saw. It is starting at this stage because at the same time, so it’s not a new movie but it’s the big celebration for Disney in general in real life on many things, and we want to be part of that. So this is the right Star Path. If you want to be part of this, jump on the game at this time and you’ll be part of this big celebration.


Animal Crossing connection

ComicBook: Disney Dreamlight Valley is often compared to Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise. Does the team consider that frustrating or is that flattering?

Castet: We have, in the team, most of the team are huge life-sim fans. So [on one hand] flattering because a lot of us spent a lot of time in many, many life-sims including Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and many others. So it’s cool. Let’s say we are also super proud of Disney Dreamlight Valley because even if it takes some of the standouts from this game genre, like sandbox where you can just be chill, fish and stuff, we also really wanted to propose something new with this adventure twist on it, with the fact that you have characters, they all have their own little stories. You discover the valley and unlock new biomes.

The fact that each character, you can spend time and invest time specifically with this one and it will unlock stuff for you, for the cosmetics, for the customization, for the village itself also. So we are pretty proud of the game and we are happy with the fact that we get some of the key topic of life-sims, but we are also happy to see that people see the difference with other games. And I agree that it’s not a ripoff or this kind of stuff.


Disney roles

ComicBook: Were there challenges finding certain Disney characters to fit into specific roles? I was actually very surprised to see Scrooge McDuck kind of becoming that shop owner type, only because I feel like we don’t see Scrooge in a lot of media that’s not DuckTales or he’s very often pigeonholed, but now, we see him kind of interacting with more of the Disney familiar, like Mickey and Goofy. Were there challenges to find these roles and to figure out which characters work best in them?

Castet: Yeah, it was an important topic for all of them, especially the early characters because they have a big role like Goofy in the stall or Scrooge in the shop. So we really wanted to make sure it felt true to them and so we did some back and forth, we tested. For the case of Scrooge, every character in the game, even villains want, in their own way, to help the valley. So Scrooge wants to help the valley but in his own way. And he will be happy to make cash doing so. So it was fitting well.

We sat down with Disney and they loved the idea so it was fitting well. But yeah, it’s not something you can go quick. It’s not something you can rush, deciding like WALL-E being the kind of gardener of the village. It’s something that came from the idea of WALL-E and the little boot with the little plant, which makes a lot of sense and also the idea of the movie about ecology and saving the world from all this dirt that we see in the movie. So all that makes sense, but it went with several back and forth [conversations] to make sure it was the right character for the right role.


Disney’s role

(Photo: Gameloft)

ComicBook: Now, there’s obviously a lot of close work with Disney on who you’re allowed to use and how they work, but one thing that I find really interesting is that we get to see these characters that you normally wouldn’t get to see interact. It’s funny watching Moana walk by Goofy. That’s not something you’d see anywhere else. Was Disney very specific about how that would work or did Disney kind of give you guys a little more free rein than you would expect?

Castet: So this is one of the key topics that we envisioned from the beginning on the game is being the first game where you can see Buzz and WALL-E talk together, Moana and Goofy, for example, or Kristoff and Mother Gothel. It felt for us, like any Disney fan would want to see that. In our opinion at least, it was one of the key things we wanted to see, all these characters interact together and not just waving or saying hello, having actual lines of dialogue and also be part of the quest. I don’t know how far you are in the story, but at one point, you need to get the collaboration between Kristoff, Merlin, Ursula to save the valley. It’s deep, the collaboration between these different IPs, deep.

And for sure it was worked closely with Disney but they were also super on board with the idea because it was one of the key selling points of the game, having these characters together. They’re not just working next to each other, they are living together. So all of these discussions were carefully tailor made with Disney, but they were super… they were generating many ideas. More than limiting us or anything, they came to us with many ideas because they also love these characters and it’s a new way together. And so we have lists and lists of ideas. This character will discuss with this one about this topic, and Remy will discuss food with Scar… So they were super helpful for that, actually.

ComicBook: I find it very interesting how each character still exists in their world before they come into Disney Dreamlight Valley. Was that something that Disney was very specific on? Because we see that with even Kingdom Hearts and that was one thing that immediately sprang to mind. I’m like, “Oh, this kind of reminds me of Kingdom Hearts where these characters are interacting but they are still part of their own separate worlds.” It’s not like Kristoff lives in the same world Mickey does normally.

Castet: So the key part for the game was to establish really early on the narrative concept. What is this world? And this world is a dream world. So everything is a dream version of the characters. So it allows us to… all of the characters went to the valley in the past, and I don’t want to spoil so much the story, but at the very beginning, we explain to you that there is the Forgetting and the Forgetting made people leave the valley and go back to their realms and you are there to bring them back. So this narrative concept was of course something we did a lot of back and forth with. We just had to make sure we had everything covered, but it was also super liberating.

We have some characters that come from their world like for example, Toy Story and Buzz, but we have also Mickey that you meet in the valley that voluntarily did not come back to his world. He stayed in the valley to protect everyone during the Forgetting and wanted to be the last to live and forgot like everybody because of the Forgetting and stay in the valley. So it give us a lot of agility about which character have their world, which characters stayed in the valley and get to tell the story we wanted to tell.


The future

Castet: Just wanted to share a quick last word, to say that for us, the important message to get over is to say just thank you. Thank you to the community, thank you to the press, thank you to everybody for the amazing impact. And just if you liked 2022, 2023 will be even better. Ton of cool stuff coming.


Disney Dreamlight Valley is available in early access on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Readers can check out all of our previous coverage of Disney Dreamlight Valley right here.

Have you been enjoying Disney Dreamlight Valley? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter and on Hive at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!


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