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 Alex

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.

Edited by iAmJohn

That's sad, but certainly not surprising.

EDIT: Now that I've stolen the quest from someone, allow me to take issue with this part of the story:

Unfortunately, neither game yielded strong sales

Now I have no idea how well Epic Mickey 2 did (and I can't imagine it did well after the first game), but Epic Mickey is a game that sold close to a million and a half fucking units in its first month and Disney still called it a disappointment. How is that possible or remotely sane? It screams less of Junction Point failing to deliver (well, sales-wise, at least; let's not get into the qualitative aspect) and more of Disney having completely unrealistic expectations about games and expecting to make infinite Call of Duty style money and balking when it didn't happen instantaneously. Or, to put it another way, Disney is a shitty, badly managed company and this blood is completely on their hands. Just like Propaganda and Black Rock.

Edited by jewunit

Not Warren Spector! Where does he go from here?

Posted by Thoseposers

DAMN YOU VIGNOCCHI!

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@jewunit said:

Not Warren Spector!

Honestly, I hope now he can go make a game I'm more interested in.

Posted by notdavid

I'm running out of 40s to pour out.

Posted by PimblyCharles

Wow, it's bad a bad start for this year of gaming. So many closings and buy outs. Hopefully these developers find other jobs in the industry.

Posted by Robopengy

Maybe Warren will land somewhere that will use him better

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Alex said:

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.

Does Disney see the business world as a game of Warhammer 40K? Because that would explain a lot.

Posted by Ted_Mosby

Warren seems like a guy who genuinely loves all things Disney and it's a shame that his games and their sales numbers didn't reflect that. Good luck to him and everyone else at Junction Point.

Posted by Zaxex

Are all developers now under some sort of probation these days? There's been so much of: make a game, it sells okay, make a sequel, not good enough, you're all fired.

I know it's a business, but shouldn't there be a middle ground between success and failure?

Posted by paulunga

@jewunit said:

Not Warren Spector! Where does he go from here?

Honestly, wherever he wants. He's Warren fucking Spector. He should join Ken Levine at Irrational and get to work on a new Thief.

Edited by umdesch4

@iAmJohn said:

but Epic Mickey is a game that sold a million and a half fucking units in its first month and Disney still called it a disappointment.

1.5 million sales on a Wii exclusive? Geez, that's pretty amazing. How much better could they possibly have expected it to sell? That's ridiculous. For reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_Wii_video_games

Posted by MisterCrow

@paulunga: Yeah, it's sad to see another studio close but the idea that Warren could potentially make games not under the Disney name is an exciting thought.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@paulunga said:

@jewunit said:

Not Warren Spector! Where does he go from here?

Honestly, wherever he wants. He's Warren fucking Spector. He should join Ken Levine at Irrational and get to work on a new Thief.

The next Thief is being made by Eidos Montreal I believe... and they also made Deus Ex HR. Maybe he should go there.

Posted by MisterCrow

@notdavid: No shit, so many studios are dropping.

Posted by fox01313

Too bad to hear this on Junction Point studio, best of luck to everyone affected by this.

Posted by MeatSim

Considering how lackluster the Epic Mickey games were I suppose it's not that surprising.

Online
Posted by 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.

Posted by jozzy

@iAmJohn said:

That's sad, but certainly not surprising.

EDIT: Now that I've stolen the quest from someone, allow me to take issue with this part of the story:

Unfortunately, neither game yielded strong sales

Now I have no idea how well Epic Mickey 2 did (and I can't imagine it did well after the first game), but Epic Mickey is a game that sold a million and a half fucking units in its first month and Disney still called it a disappointment. How is that possible or remotely sane? It screams less of Junction Point failing to deliver (well, sales-wise, at least; let's not get into the qualitative aspect) and more of Disney having completely unrealistic expectations about games and expecting to make infinite Call of Duty style money and balking when it didn't happen instantaneously. Or, to put it another way, Disney is a shitty, badly managed company and this blood is completely on their hands. Just like Propaganda and Black Rock.

Also, while it is unfortunate for them, for the industry in general I am happy when mediocre to bad games don't sell well. And the Wii U version was a disgrace, if the QL was any indication.

Posted by iAmJohn

@umdesch4: I'm really glad you posted that, because now I'm trying to comprehend how Deca Sports could've sold 2 million units.

Posted by RazielCuts

@paulunga said:

@jewunit said:

Not Warren Spector! Where does he go from here?

Honestly, wherever he wants. He's Warren fucking Spector. He should join Ken Levine at Irrational and get to work on a new Thief.

That's what I was thinking as well, he should go to Irrational but then I thought, I can only imagine the amount of dicks slapping on desks and pissing matches. I mean in a game of chess Spector beats Levine right? I doubt Levine would want to give up the mantel of top dawg.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Maybe a case of hindsight is 20/20, but no surprise here. Like everybody else I want to see Spector work on something I'd like but I feel we're forgetting that he wanted to work for Disney. It's not like he's a creative slave now freed from his kids-game-making master. Based on his interviews before starting Junction Point Studios, he was very much wanting to do "different" non-violent games.

Hope you learned your lesson, Warren!

Online
Posted by Nictel

I just remember 'framerate!' from the QL for epic mickey 2.. It is very unfortunate for the people involved but I think if the games had been better performance wise they would have easily sold 3x more.

Posted by Baltimore

@iAmJohn: The first game sold enough for Disney to green light a second game. But Epic Mickey 2 only sold around 270,000 copies over multiple platforms by the end of 2012. Considering how much money was spent on developments and marketing it most likely lost Disney a LOT of money (or at least what you and I would consider a lot). Sadly, this is Disney cutting their losses.

Posted by HellknightLeon

I don't mean this studio but... it feels like they make studios just to close them. Maybe help make a game or make "one" game and then they get closed...

Posted by Sword5

Ryan Davis "They don't deserve another chance."

Posted by jewunit

@GERALTITUDE: It's sad. The guy is a legitimate fan of Disney and a very talented game designer. The two aspects just did not coalesce in an interesting way. I hope the guy lands on his feet.

Posted by umdesch4

@iAmJohn said:

@umdesch4: I'm really glad you posted that, because now I'm trying to comprehend how Deca Sports could've sold 2 million units.

Yeah, but I wonder when they say "shipped" (only some titles on the list say that). Does that mean they pressed and sent out that many copies, and now they're sitting out in the desert next to the old Atari ET cartridges?

Posted by Phatmac

Jesus... Game devs are dropping fast.

Posted by ZeForgotten

Question is, can we somehow blame John Vignocchi for this and make it seem like it's his fault? 
Just like we blamed him for that Tron game-thingy

Posted by jaks

What a waste of Warren.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

It sucks when people lose job stability but to be perfectly honest the Epic Mickey games never lived up to their potential so I'm neither shocked nor surprised at this turn of events, nor do I feel some kind of great loss that this studio closed.

Posted by YoungFrey

Even if 1.5 M is a great sales number for the Wii (let's assume it is), I have no idea what the development cost was and how well Junction Point stuck to it. My guess is that Disney thought their name would buy them a bigger than usual adoption for a 3rd party game.

Posted by smokyexe

Come back Alex, please.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

On one hand, people losing their jobs is never good. On the other... maybe Warren Spector can make games I'm interested in again.

Posted by darkvare

maybe if disney had let them do the more mature and interesting take spector showed first he might have made a more appealing game but sadly it was just another baf mickey game in the end

Posted by Saganomics

@ArbitraryWater said:

On one hand, people losing their jobs is never good. On the other... maybe Warren Spector can make games I'm interested in again.

This exact sentiment went through my mind when I saw the headline.

Posted by evanbower
@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.
Online
Posted by LikeaSsur

@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.

Hyperbole isn't necessary. The Beatles, Playstation 2, Skyrim, Inception, and a lot of other things are both good and financially successful.

Posted by Baltimore

@Sword5 said:

Ryan Davis "They don't deserve another chance."

I hate to agree with Ryan (I'm mean Fuck that guy) but he is correct. The first game was a near unplayable mess and the second game, while better, was buggy and derivative. Not to mention that neither game was fun. They tried and failed. I'm sorry folks are out of a job but that's the way the games industry is.

Posted by SlashDance

If Arkane Studios hired Spector, he could be working with Harvey Smith again. Just sayin'.

Posted by RobertOrri

Those games both completely failed on a gameplay level. Shallow and uninteresting with poor controls.

Posted by EnduranceFun

@LikeaSsur: Skyrim was good, but its insane sales aren't proportional to its quality.

Posted by Saganomics

@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.

Not gonna stand idly by while someone besmirchs the Big Mac.

Posted by Nilazz

It's time for Warren to move on to something that will make his old fans excited!

Posted by SmokePants

So, it took them 5 years to ship a game, then they got one out in 2 years, but it sounded like it was little more than a remix of the first game, and they had 160 employees!? They deserved to be shut down and Warren Spector should leave the game industry as he doesn't seem to have anything left to offer it.

Posted by Wacomole

Hopefully some of those guys out of a job can find some work at the new CryTek (ex Vigil) offices in Austin.

Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY

Make Better Games, PROFIT???

Posted by LikeaSsur

@EnduranceFun said:

@LikeaSsur: Skyrim was good, but its insane sales aren't proportional to its quality.

You're missing the point. Something can make a lot of money and be good, which is what evanbower was trying to disprove (you even say it's good, basically agreeing with me, so why you replied is a complete mystery).

  • 171 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4