Disney isn’t just known for being one of the top Hollywood champs at the box office. It’s also one of the few Hollywood studios with fully-dedicated games division. Or rather, they were until this week.
As revealed earlier this week by multiple news sources (first broken by TheWrap), Disney has made the decision to shutter its games division after a surprisingly lower-than-expected Q2 earnings report.
As a result (and much to the dismay of its fans), the Disney Infinity franchise of toy-based video games has effectively been discontinued, three years after its initial launch in 2013. Originally focused on characters from various Disney films, the line soon expanded to include characters and content from other core Disney brands like Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.
Two more play-sets will be released from the Disney Infinity line, both of which tie into upcoming Disney films—Alice: Through the Looking Glass and Pixar’s Finding Dory.
The game’s SVP and GM John Blackburn had this to say about the intended goals and success of the line: “Our goal for Disney Infinity was to bring the best of Disney storytelling to life in homes around the world, and with your support we accomplished that. We hope you had as much fun playing the game as we had making it.”
Now, why is Disney closing up shop in the gaming world? According to a statement from Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media head Jimmy Pitaro, the constantly-evolving landscape of console gaming proved a difficult terrain for Disney Interactive to navigate. This combined with the perceived lack of growth in the toys-to-life market and the high development costs meant that there was no long-term initiative that would allow Disney to remain a serious competitor in the gaming world.
The closing of its games division will also have an effect on the company as a whole, as Disney is expected to take a hefty write-down of $147 million. Also, according to comments from a Disney spokesperson on The Wall Street Journal‘s report, the shutdown of Disney Interactive and its Salt Lake City studio Avalanche Games will result in layoffs totaling between 250 to 300 jobs lost.
Once the smoke has cleared and the shutdown process complete, Disney’s new plan going forward is to license its properties to third-party gaming companies.
“We just feel that it’s a changing space and we’re just better off at managing the risk that business delivers by licensing rather than publishing.” Disney CEO Robert Iger told investors during the earnings call.
Lucasfilm already has a similar arrangement with Electronic Arts (EA), who is currently developing multiple Star Wars games for consoles under an exclusive deal.
In contrast, Disney’s mobile games division will continue to operate as is, with the expectation that Disney may invest more resources there.
What do you think? If you are a gamer, are you going to miss playing Disney Infinity? What other Disney characters would you have liked to see get Disney Infinity playsets and figurines?
Edited by: Kelly Conley