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Disney Interactive Confirms Restructuring As Devs Suffer Layoffs

Disney looks to digital instead of packaged goods.

Reports that a lot of people are losing their jobs at Disney Interactive appear to be genuine, as the publisher is beginning what it calls a “restructuring process” that will move away from traditional packaged games and toward the digital media games space. 

“As part of setting a strategic direction for future success in the digital media space, the Disney Interactive Media Group [Disney Interactive Studios' parent company] today began a restructuring process,” Disney said in a statement given to Variety earlier this morning. 
 
Around 250 people at Disney Interactive have been let go during a “first round” of layoffs over the last 24 hours, according to Joystiq. This news follows the recent reports of an unknown amount of layoffs at Junction Point, the studio who put out Epic Mickey.     


 
The writing has been on the wall for some time, according to CNBC and Variety. The division paid big money for Facebook developer Playdom in 2010 and then lost a couple of key corporate guys, including president Steve Wadsworth and games department GM Graham Hopper. Both were replaced by Playdom CEO John Pleasants.  
 
Also, back in 2010, there were layoffs at Propaganda Games following the cancellation of Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. In 2011, Disney Interactive announced the shuttering of the entire studio after it shipped its other title, Tron: Evolution: The Video Game

As Joystiq points out, Disney Interactive has yet to provide a statement on the status of Junction Point or Split Second developer Black Rock Studio. We definitely look forward to hearing something, and wish the best to those who've lost their jobs. 
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Posted by BradNicholson

Reports that a lot of people are losing their jobs at Disney Interactive appear to be genuine, as the publisher is beginning what it calls a “restructuring process” that will move away from traditional packaged games and toward the digital media games space. 

“As part of setting a strategic direction for future success in the digital media space, the Disney Interactive Media Group [Disney Interactive Studios' parent company] today began a restructuring process,” Disney said in a statement given to Variety earlier this morning. 
 
Around 250 people at Disney Interactive have been let go during a “first round” of layoffs over the last 24 hours, according to Joystiq. This news follows the recent reports of an unknown amount of layoffs at Junction Point, the studio who put out Epic Mickey.     


 
The writing has been on the wall for some time, according to CNBC and Variety. The division paid big money for Facebook developer Playdom in 2010 and then lost a couple of key corporate guys, including president Steve Wadsworth and games department GM Graham Hopper. Both were replaced by Playdom CEO John Pleasants.  
 
Also, back in 2010, there were layoffs at Propaganda Games following the cancellation of Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. In 2011, Disney Interactive announced the shuttering of the entire studio after it shipped its other title, Tron: Evolution: The Video Game

As Joystiq points out, Disney Interactive has yet to provide a statement on the status of Junction Point or Split Second developer Black Rock Studio. We definitely look forward to hearing something, and wish the best to those who've lost their jobs. 
Edited by xseedx

Man. Sad news.

Posted by Hailinel
@fwylo:  There's something incredibly tasteless about posting that image against news of mass layoffs.
Posted by Chris2KLee

Looks like Disney is beating something of a tactical retreat after a strong push to get into games in a serious way. Best wishes to all the people cut loose, hope everyone lands on their feet.

Posted by MysteriousBob

This is what happens when you give an awkward, overly ambitious N64-throwback game an absurd budget.

Posted by Mcfart

Good luck to the layoffs.

Posted by CaLe

Well Junction Point hired a whole load of people for Epic Mickey, it was only to be expected that they would no longer be necessary after the game finished.

Posted by MisterMouse

major bummer.

Posted by fox01313

This always sucks to hear happening, best of luck to those developers/artists/ect.

Posted by El_Derrico

Hope Johnny V isn't part of the layoffs. Dude's getting married.

Posted by ch13696

So if their going the way of digital distribution, will they still be helping with Kingdom Hearts?

Posted by Jayross

250 O.o whoa... that sucks.

Posted by HarlequinRiot

Kinda sucks. Disney got into publishing in a real big way really quickly. And it seemed like they were going in the right direction. They just got stuck with some mild stinkers right out of the gate. Split/Second was really good though.  
 
Has there been any word on how well Epic Mickey or Tron sold? 

Posted by chogi

SAVE JOHNNY V!

Posted by SpicyRichter

Here's hoping Johnny V keeps his job! I hate hearing about layoffs, companies should be expanding not contracting

Posted by President_Barackbar

Ok people, NOW is when you can start worrying about Johnny V's job.

Posted by MattyFTM

Hope Johnny V isn't affected by any of this. Fingers crossed for him.

Moderator
Posted by TheHT

Damn, and more to come?

Posted by onarum

yep, being a developer sure sounds like a lot of fun, you do all the hard work only to be disposed off when not needed anymore while all the suits that kept pestering you to rush the development process get to keep their jobs.

Posted by NakAttack
@MattyFTM said:
" Hope Johnny V isn't affected by any of this. Fingers crossed for him. "
I was thinking the same. Hope he gets out of this unscathed.
Posted by Deathpooky

Sad stuff - Epic Mickey had some problems but I enjoyed it and my girlfriend loved it.  Though from the stance of Spector being brought on to make this game and getting a team together, it does seem like they had planned this to be a one time thing.

Posted by Xpgamer7

So many layoffs everywhere. As the biz gets bigger, some competition is pushed out. sad.

Posted by MikkaQ

Man that's a bummer. 

Posted by BenLaserlove

I hope Junction Point gets to do more Mickey Mouse stuff, as contrary to Ryan's review I really liked Epic Mickey despite its flaws.

Posted by SirThirdFilms

Johnny V told me yesterday he is fine.

Posted by Hailinel

People that are blaming Epic Mickey for this need to refocus where they're looking.  The writing should have been on the wall when Armada of the Damned was axed without any public explanation.  This sounds like something that Disney had been plotting for a while, now.

Posted by WilliamHenry

Didn't Epic Mickey sell fantastically? Seeing people getting laid off or studios getting shut down after a game ships is so disheartening.

Posted by El_Derrico

Why Disney didn't sell Epic Mickey on all platforms is beyond me. The person who decided that is the one who should be fired.

Posted by Hailinel
@El_Derrico said:
" Why Disney didn't sell Epic Mickey on all platforms is beyond me. The person who decided that is the one who should be fired. "
That was Warren Spector's decision, actually.
Posted by Pabba

That really sucks. Job loss, no matter what, just sucks.
Online
Edited by ProfessorEss

Why I find particularly strange is that Epic Mickey apparently sold over 1.5 million copies*.
So does that mean even a million-plus seller these day can't support it's own budget?
Or is it that Epic Mickey sales couldn't support other failed projects?
 

 (*NDP numbers via Gametrailers' Invisible Walls #143)

Posted by Woodroez

There were some heady times there right after...was it GDC where Jeff saw Armada of the Damned? As he said in the subsequent bombcast, it really seemed like DI, along with WBI, were pushing awfully hard to firmly establish themselves within the industry.  
 
Another case of an industry group finding out way too late they've gotten too big for their britches. Is it just me or does this happen way more in video games than it seems to anywhere else?
Posted by Hailinel
@ProfessorEss said:
" Why I find particularly strange is that Epic Mickey apparently sold over 1.5 million copies*. So does that mean even a million-plus seller these day can't support it's own budget? Or is it that Epic Mickey sales couldn't support other failed projects?    (*NDP numbers via Gametrailers' Invisible Walls #143) "
It sounds like Disney's games division was sinking too much for one game to bail it out, no matter how well it sold.  The Tron games are about what we should have expected, given their nature as movie tie-in games, but other than that, what else did they actually have this past year?  And who knows what the budget on the cancelled Pirates of the Caribbean game was like.
Edited by ProfessorEss
@Hailinel: Sad part is it doesn't matter.
 
The execs will point their fingers at "piracy" and "used games",  tell gamers "Remember, buy your games new to support developers (and pre-order at Gamestop)", stuff their pockets with money made by the recently unemployed developers, and head back to their mansions while developers explain to their wives, husbands and children why they're working on their resume.
 
(Man oh man that's cynical, but it was fun to write :) What has the games industry done to me?)
Posted by ajamafalous
@President_Barackbar said:
" Ok people, NOW is when you can start worrying about Johnny V's job. "
Posted by Zamir

I blame Johnny V for all this, i think it was all downhill when he called that guy "Horsey", but seriously it''s pretty bad news

Posted by Brodehouse

Seems like such a knee jerk move.  Why spend all the time establishing to just bow out.  Christ, work on it a few years.
 
I thought Split/Second was great, Epic Mickey was a disappointment but sold regardless, Tron is so obviously suffering from a rush job (it isn't lacking in imagination, it's lacking in playtesting), and Armada of the Damned looked really cool.  They've gone from having all the potential to be a big publisher with a ton of IP behind it to just another fringe media corporation shilling bullshit games.

Posted by OneManFreakShow

Aw man, I hope Johnny V's alright. Gotta suck for everyone involved, though.

Edited by heatDrive88

This is pretty shitty. Good luck to anyone who lost their job and all the best to them. 
 
Once again, just goes to show that making games is an expensive venture, and it's really hard to maintain a level of viability when your games just don't sell and garner the revenues that were expected of it, unfortunately. Here's hoping these studios can fare better in digital shelf space and deliver better and more commercially viable games in that realm.

Posted by Whizbang

First they came for Johnny V's job, and we did nothing.

Posted by Tactical_Kill

That sucks. Hopefully Johnny V is safe.

Edited by Gabriel

Look like WBI won this battle.

Posted by jebner10

Bummer, my kids liked Epic Mickey problems and all. Was hoping to see an improved second one come out.

Posted by aurahack

Bummer. This is always so depressing to hear/read, especially if you're wishing to someday get involved in this industry.  
 
I sincerely hope Black Rock stays fine. There's some incredible racing game talent in there. 

Posted by Xshinobi

I really hope Blackrock stays together.

Posted by Kyle

This is all because of John's Ice-T impression at PAX!!  
I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN!!

Posted by detectivepbert

doesn't surprise me given the negative reviews for most of their recent releases, including all of the post-PS2 KH games.

Posted by Hailinel
@detectivepbert said:
" doesn't surprise me given the negative reviews for most of their recent releases, including all of the post-PS2 KH games. "
Disney doesn't develop the Kingdom Hearts series.  Aside from Disney serving as a coproducer and license holder, that's all Square Enix.
Posted by JohnPaulVann

Fuck Disney. Epic Mickey was shit but that's no reason to go the direction of casual games. 

Posted by evildeadron
@Tactical_Kill said:
"That sucks. Hopefully Johnny V is safe. "

Johnny V and his Fiance (who works in marketing for Disney Interactive) are both fine and were not part of the layoffs, just to let everyone know who mentioned him
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