Giant Bomb News

171 Comments

Junction Point, the Studio Behind Disney Epic Mickey, Is No More

Disney confirms yesterday's rumored closure of Warren Spector's Austin-based studio.

Confirming rumors that began to swirl yesterday, Disney Interactive Studios has confirmed today that Junction Point Studios, the Austin, Texas based development house behind the Disney Epic Mickey series, has been closed.

Initially rumors simply began via Twitter feeds acknowledging the closure of the studio, but confirmation from Disney remained nonexistent. Today, Disney released an official statement confirming the closure and acknowledging the studio's contributions to the Disney brand.

It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization, which include the closure of Junction Point Studios. These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities. We're extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2.

Founded in 2005 by former Ion Storm heads Warren Spector and Art Min, Junction Point was purchased in whole by Disney in 2007. In 2010, the studio released its first game, the Wii-exclusive Disney Epic Mickey, followed by 2012's multiplatform, coop-focused sequel, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Unfortunately, neither game yielded strong sales, and with Disney now squarely focused on its new Infinity initiative, Junction Point didn't exactly seem to fit into the publisher's current scheme.

According to Polygon, Junction Point housed as many as 160 employees as of early last year. No word yet on how many of those employees were still in the mix as of today's closure.

Alex Navarro on Google+
171 Comments
  • 171 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Posted by Meepasaurus

It's a big shame, especially since the concept had a huge amount of potential. I hope everyone finds work soon.

Posted by DougCL

whatever. i look forward to his kickstarter.

Online
Posted by BSw

Which so much potential, why wouldn't Disney keep it alive? There's more to be done with talent than Epic Mickey 3.

Posted by dvorak

Maybe Warren Spector will end up actually making a game that he would be good at.

Posted by Milkman

It's sad when anyone has to lose their jobs but they didn't make very good games so I'm not exactly shocked.

Online
Edited by hermes

@ProfessorEss said:

@Senate4242 said:

@UltimAXE said:

This makes me sad because Mickey Mouse holds a special place in my heart, and I've always wanted to see him make a gigantic comeback. A 2D animated theatrical film with an insane marketing campaign or an amazing console game were exactly the kind of outings that I've been dying to see him in again. Then Epic Mickey comes out and just kind of leaves us all underwhelmed, failing to live up to that original concept art. Epic Mickey 2 is released to even less fanfare. I feel like Disney is going to interpret this as nobody giving a shit about Mickey anymore.

Sucks for all of the folks losing their jobs, of course, but it also sucks to see such an iconic character stumble so much when given an opportunity to stand in the spotlight again.

I couldn't agree more. I wanted these games to be good soooo bad and while the first one was pretty good at least, the second one felt like a hot mess. The style and aesthetics were there, but on a technical level it was broken. I don't even know what to do or where to go in the second one, and the whole Oswald being needed for certain puzzles is agonizing. I picked up the 3DS version as well, but after watching the quicklook on here I don't even have the heart to unwrap it..

Poor Mickey.

I too am I sucker for Mickey and I'm feeling these posts right here.

All I can hope is that Disney sees this and thinks "If we can sell 1.5 million by putting Mickey in a bad game, I wonder how much a good one would sell?". I hope they give Mickey another shot. Maybe keep things a little simpler this time around. Oh, and maybe get the developers to play some Rayman: Origins before they start ;)

To answer your question: About the same amount... Disney is fully aware marketing and brand recognition are what made those games commercial success.

I don't want to be cynic, but I think Disney wins me on that: To the people that looked at the concept art and expected that, do you know it will never happen, right?

Disney is the kind of company that lobbies the senate to change laws so that his properties are copyright protected; they will need a lot more persuasion than Specter's reputation to make them take a risk. They are going to play it safe as much as they can, with Mickey with a funny hat being the maximum amount of subversion allowed.

The worst problems with the game were not even in the game, they were that the concepts make it look like it could be so much more. But the last time the Disney brand has been close to take a risk in videogames were the Kingdom Hearts games (which are not in-house), and there is a reason why the new ones divert from the Disney properties more and more with each iteration. It sure doesn't give much hope to Disney Infinity.

Sorry about Specter. He looks like a guy with a personal vision and passion that would do a lot better without executive meddling. I wish him and his team the best.

Posted by FierceDeity

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam
@Bourbon_Warrior said:

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

That fails to account for the people who have little or no influence on the management or development decisions of a corporation but still lost their livelihood because that management was incompetent. Feeling bad for them is just humane.
Posted by ddensel
Posted by hermes

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

Posted by TheHT

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

if someone comes around telling me Big Rigs is a quality experience, that person has a less valid understanding of quality.

Posted by FierceDeity

@hermes said:

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Posted by seamus85

so much potential but the games sucked so no big loss.

Posted by joshthebear

Considering how the Epic Mickey games turned out, I'm not shocked at all.

Posted by golguin

@FierceDeity said:

@hermes said:

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Are you serious? Even with my little Marketing Management minor I can tell you that everything is about shaping public opinion about a product. As a Graphic Designer I can guarantee that designs are made a particular way to catch the eye and attract attention despite the quality of the actual product.

Posted by JJOR64

The Epic Mickey concept is really neat, but it stinks they failed to deliver it twice. Thought about getting Epic Mickey 2 still if I can find it dirt cheap.

Posted by Grilledcheez

Those epic mickey games weren't any good, but I hope they all find jobs.

Posted by sissylion

The first two paragraphs use some form of the word "confirm" four times. Step your game up, Alex.

Posted by MstrMnyBgs

@golguin said:

@FierceDeity said:

@hermes said:

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Are you serious? Even with my little Marketing Management minor I can tell you that everything is about shaping public opinion about a product. As a Graphic Designer I can guarantee that designs are made a particular way to catch the eye and attract attention despite the quality of the actual product.

I think his point was that they do help push people in a certain direction, but they don't make the decisions for us. We still make the conscious decision to consume product A, even if it is assisted by subliminal things via marketing and what not.

Posted by Veektarius

Can't say I'm sorry. Never had any interest in the Disney license, but then, that's a bigger problem than Warren Spector could solve. I wouldn't even play KH when I was crazy about Final Fantasy games.

Posted by Aleryn

Sad. I wish I wasn't surprised after the bad sales of Epic Mickey. I suspect the games were one console generation behind. They weren't bad games but kids now seem to mostly play on PCs, phones, and tablets.

Posted by golguin

@MstrMnyBgs said:

@golguin said:

@FierceDeity said:

@hermes said:

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Are you serious? Even with my little Marketing Management minor I can tell you that everything is about shaping public opinion about a product. As a Graphic Designer I can guarantee that designs are made a particular way to catch the eye and attract attention despite the quality of the actual product.

I think his point was that they do help push people in a certain direction, but they don't make the decisions for us. We still make the conscious decision to consume product A, even if it is assisted by subliminal things via marketing and what not.

I was responding to the idea that "Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?" and asserting that it is exactly what it does. Even thinking that a buying decision is entirely your own conscious decision isn't giving enough credit to the subconscious effects that good marketing can produce.

Keep in mind that the more information a consumer knows about a product the more likely they are to resists the effects of marketing. People who come to this website for example wont fall as easily to video game marketing campaigns as the general public. However, how many people do you see jumping on the hype train after a nice trailer comes out for X game?

Posted by Psychohead

Fucking hell. This is shaping up to be a really crappy year for Austin.

Online
Posted by Scrawnto

The upheaval of studios of the last couple of years has been absolutely brutal. This sort of thing is exactly why I didn't try to break into the industry after getting my degree in Comp Sci: Computer Game Design. Regular software development might not be nearly as exciting, but it's certainly much more stable. For the moment, I'm content to make that tradeoff.

I really hope the industry settles down. It must be devastating to have to tear up your stakes every few years when another studio goes under.

Posted by Snakepond

Are we surprised?

I gave Junction Point a chance when I spent money on the first game which was not perfect, but I was willing to give it a shot.

They won't be getting my money a second time.

Posted by Pop

well shit... Maybe Disney is putting all their money on Infinity and getting rid of these guys means more money. Sad to see how this stuff works, feels like something is shutting down each week now.

Posted by Butano

There go my dreams of Spector possibly making a Ducktales game.....

Posted by Baltimore

@iAmJohn: I agree that there is quite a bit of hubris on the part of Disney in this situation. I would bet they were suspecting that they games would sell much better considering they star Mickey. But we have to face facts, both games were bad. And the second game sold terribly. Disney most likely had projections for how well the game needed to do in order to bet profitable. The game most likely didn't meet those projections and for a company as hit driven as Disney it was better for them to drop it.

Another factor is from a PR angle. Both games scored pretty low on Metacritic and GameRankings. Also, both games saw a high trade-in rate at Gamestop. So slammed by both the press, fans and the general media could NOT have helped matters.

Posted by vinone

Rough 2013 so far... Ouch...

Posted by Homelessbird

@golguin said:

@MstrMnyBgs said:

@golguin said:

@FierceDeity said:

@hermes said:

@FierceDeity said:

@evanbower said:

@Bourbon_Warrior

Make better games, this is how capitalism works we can't have a cry each time a developer that isn't profitable goes down.

Yeah. The best stuff is, without fail, always the most profitable. If you guys need me ill be watching Transformers and listening to Justin Bieber while I enjoy a Big Mac and Coke.

You have your opinions, and I have mine. Capitalism takes all of our purchasing decisions into consideration. So some people like music you don't like, eat food you don't like, or watch movies you don't like. It doesn't make their opinions any less valid.

You might be unfamiliar with the concepts of marketing and advertisement which are, by definition, forms to influence public opinions; and quite often, more responsible for sales than quality.

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Are you serious? Even with my little Marketing Management minor I can tell you that everything is about shaping public opinion about a product. As a Graphic Designer I can guarantee that designs are made a particular way to catch the eye and attract attention despite the quality of the actual product.

I think his point was that they do help push people in a certain direction, but they don't make the decisions for us. We still make the conscious decision to consume product A, even if it is assisted by subliminal things via marketing and what not.

I was responding to the idea that "Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?" and asserting that it is exactly what it does. Even thinking that a buying decision is entirely your own conscious decision isn't giving enough credit to the subconscious effects that good marketing can produce.

Keep in mind that the more information a consumer knows about a product the more likely they are to resists the effects of marketing. People who come to this website for example wont fall as easily to video game marketing campaigns as the general public. However, how many people do you see jumping on the hype train after a nice trailer comes out for X game?

Isn't the point here that the games couldn't live up to whatever hype there was? There were plenty of marketing-based, anticipatory sales for Epic Mickey 1. Hell, I bought it. But once people realized that it wasn't the best game, nothing could make them line up for the second chapter.

Marketing can, for sure, influence opinions, but it can't create a reality. People aren't going to KEEP going to McDonald's and listening to Justin Bieber because of some ad campaign - that can only get them in the door initially.

I think the real misstep here was a game design/subject material blunder. They made a series of games about characters that no one in their target demographic remembers. They made a game about 1920's Disney nostalgia and they made it for little kids. It was a schizophrenic concept from the start.

Posted by Twinsun

I gotta say, I don't get why Warren Spector isn't called out more for how bad both of the Epic Mickey games were, he helped hype the hell of out them, and in the end delivered a subpar product, yet I hardly see anyone calling him out on it.

Posted by Dick_Mohawk

Christ! It's a massacre out there in dev/publisher land.

Posted by DedBeet

@Twinsun said:

I gotta say, I don't get why Warren Spector isn't called out more for how bad both of the Epic Mickey games were, he helped hype the hell of out them, and in the end delivered a subpar product, yet I hardly see anyone calling him out on it.

Which me questions his status as a gaming legend. Deus Ex was great but how much of that greatness did he contribute to?

Posted by Brendan

It's always bad to hear about situations like this, but in this case I think there isn't a whole lot to the story that is unjust, at least from the outside. The studio, which had a lot of employees to pay for, made two games that both weren't very good, and didn't sell very well. They therefore went out of business. I wish the best of luck to those affected that they find situations more suited to them.

Posted by KainCarver

@Butano said:

There go my dreams of Spector possibly making a Ducktales game.....

Agreed.

Posted by Bartman3010

That might explain why Epic Mickey 2 just dropped $20 recently.

Also Austin isn't too far from me. This is starting to look like a rough period for video games.

Posted by tourgen

@Hailinel said:

@tourgen
Great.
Why.

selfish reasons. No more mouse games to hear about.

Posted by Luddite

@FierceDeity said:

No, marketing and advertisement are simply a means of disseminating information. Surely people are not so weak willed as to have their opinions, their very thoughts, shaped by such messages?

Disseminating image, not information. Marketing has lied to me plenty of times, I just happen to usually ignore it.

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

The second game didn't seem to work given what I saw in the GB Quick look The first game doing low, but okay sales allowed the second to come out; but at the point Junction Point needed to come out on time and with polished title. They didn't do that.

I think there is a lot of blame to go around, but there is also a ton of circumstance too. First thing is, I do not think Mickey or Oswald were all that interesting. Nor, was the whole Wasteland interesting The 'world' of Wasteland was vague, sinister and really didn't gel into anything players could understand. Second, the paint brush to add or remove was interesting but was not close to what people wanted. I think a 3D adventure game with Mickey, Oswald, and the gang that was an adventure game were where Mickey was running, dashing, jumping, swinging, climbing, and sliding would have been fun. What brought the game down was the need to make those paint/thinner puzzles that just didn't work and that required a world that was weird & half finished.

Posted by ArsenalFan

I'd like to see Warren Spector work on an original IP. The guy has made some great games in the past and I think he will flourish again given the chance to express his creativity

Posted by iAmJohn

@Baltimore said:

@iAmJohn: I agree that there is quite a bit of hubris on the part of Disney in this situation. I would bet they were suspecting that they games would sell much better considering they star Mickey. But we have to face facts, both games were bad. And the second game sold terribly. Disney most likely had projections for how well the game needed to do in order to bet profitable. The game most likely didn't meet those projections and for a company as hit driven as Disney it was better for them to drop it.

Another factor is from a PR angle. Both games scored pretty low on Metacritic and GameRankings. Also, both games saw a high trade-in rate at Gamestop. So slammed by both the press, fans and the general media could NOT have helped matters.

Oh absolutely. Let me be clear here: I'm in no way trying to absolve Junction Point of any blame. They were given cart blanche for that first game and made something with a bunch of cool ideas buried under mediocre to bad execution. And when given a second chance, they managed to make a game that looks to be even worse and couldn't even trick people into buying it this time. The quality of Epic Mickey is all on Junction Point in that regard. I just think it really needs to be stated just how much blame Disney needs to shoulder here for mismanaging their games division and allowing catastrophes like this to happen.

And really, you have to start from the start with that, and for me that start is in Epic Mickey being a disappointment at over a million sales. It sold better than it had any right to, and yet Disney still wasn't happy. They did the obvious mistake that basically every media company that has tried to get into games has made in thinking that they can spend a lot of money and make it all back quickly and easily just because of who they are--if Nintendo is the Disney of video games, then surely we can come in and succeed at being that by actually being Disney!--and they lost. You have to wonder who thought it was a good fucking idea to spend that much money on a Wii exclusive released in 2010 if they had to sell more than fucktons to be happy. And yet they still greenlit a sequel, in spite of games being notoriously difficult to sell sequels for when the first game is poorly received... except they gave Junction Point less than two years to make it when they had to fix core issues inherent to that game's design and engine, and come up with all new story and environments and all that musical stuff, and make versions for other consoles. To put it another way, they gave Junction Point an unrealistic order and then got angry when they couldn't fulfill it. (If they were actually serious about Epic Mickey, they should have waited for the next consoles and actually given Junction Point the time to fix those issues and get some distance between the sequel and the poor reputation of the first game, but that's another argument.) It's complete backwards logic, and yet Disney did it anyway and Junction Point had to pay the price.

I think it would be one thing if it was just Junction Point that got screwed like that. But Disney has a history of doing that to its teams, as do many of the media empires that get involved in games when they don't understand the industry (sup, MTV Games?). And for that reason, fuck them.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

I NEVER liked the Disneyland gone wild concept. I always wanted to see old cartoons made twisted, not the theme park.

Edited by Thiefsie

@arimajinn said:

Remember when Warren Spector used to make good games?

Not really... he was a name on Deus Ex, System Shock and Thief and from what I can ascertain the other big names behind those either were largely responsible or much better at building upon those foundations to make great games... ala Dishonoured and Bioshock.

Posted by spraynardtatum

Why do they even name these developers anymore?

Edited by habibyjohnson

Not surprising, unfortunately.

Epic Mickey 1 I enjoyed. It was a little flawed, but still had alot of interesting ideas and was a lot of fun to play through I thought. EM2 was just a giant step back in every way. Completely mediocre, cant believe it was the same team. And it sold just as poorly as it was reviewed. Same goes for the awlful 3DS game. 2 major critical and commerical bombs that your company has poured all your resources into and your gonna get a studio closure.

Posted by Palaeomerus

@spraynardtatum: @spraynardtatum said:

Why do they even name these developers anymore?

Yeah. Junction Point? Surely we can be blander and more abstract yet cheekily on the nose than that. Why not 'Commercial Artistic Concepts Ltd' or 'Game Content Production Group Inc' ?

Posted by Baltimore

@iAmJohn: I think you hit the nail on the head here: "You have to wonder who thought it was a good fucking idea to spend that much money on a Wii exclusive released in 2010." This is another example of folks who do not pay any attention to the video game industry making bad decisions then poorly managing a developer. Really makes me wonder if 'Infinity' is going to be any good.

Posted by Psykhophear

What a shame. The Epic Mickey games are a good concept but the gameplay is flawed in my opinion. All the best to Warren Spector and his talented team at Junction Point.

Posted by probablytuna

Another day, another studio closure...

Posted by Baltimore

Joystiq has a post stating that Epic Mickey 2 only sold 529,000 units in November and December. Considering the cost of development and marketing (and hubris on Disney's part). That is a disastrous number.

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/01/29/epic-mickey-2-sales-at-529-in-us/

  • 171 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4