The tried and tested merchandising game worked in a differemt way before. You make a fantstic animated film, develop a like-able character, market it till you drop and with soaring popularity go for merchandising to bring in the big money. The Buzz Lightyear is a great example of that. So the entire line extension and licensing game started with movies and ended with merchandising, tv show, games etc.
But the process that Pixar and then Disney crafted to perfection has reached a snag. The problem with this is the risk associated with it. It takes millions of dollars to make and market a movie with no guarantee that it will succeed. On the other hand it takes a few thousand dollars to create a fantastic mobile game/app with a like-able character. So its a better bet to create a mobile game based character, make to so addictive and popular that it creates a huge fan base and then make a movie which will be sure sell among the fan base and beyond. This is a better way of going. And the trend is catching on. Rovio, with its extremely popular Angry Birds game is following this reverse trend. The new game from Disney (Where’s my Water?) starring a love-able googly eye aligator called “Swampy” is already creating a huge fan base. The next logical step would be TV shows and movie. So the creator of the trend itself (Disney) has reversing the trend. Thats what is called staying ahead of the game. Kudos to Disney.