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

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

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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 CommentsRefresh

Avatar image for aleryn
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.

Avatar image for veektarius
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.

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Avatar image for mstrmnybgs
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.

Avatar image for sissylion
Posted By sissylion

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

Avatar image for grilledcheez
Posted By Grilledcheez

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

Avatar image for jjor64
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.

Avatar image for golguin
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.

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Avatar image for joshthebear
Posted By joshthebear

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

Avatar image for seamus85
Posted By seamus85

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

Avatar image for fiercedeity
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?

Avatar image for theht
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.

Avatar image for hermes
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.

Avatar image for ddensel
Posted By ddensel
Avatar image for jazz_lafayette
Posted By Jazz_Lafayette
@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.
Avatar image for fiercedeity
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.

Avatar image for hermes
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.

Avatar image for milkman
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.

Avatar image for dvorak
Posted By dvorak

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

Avatar image for bsw
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.

Avatar image for dougcl
Posted By DougCL

whatever. i look forward to his kickstarter.

Avatar image for meepasaurus
Posted By Meepasaurus

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

Avatar image for carryboy
Posted By Carryboy

@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.

Avatar image for professoress
Edited By ProfessorEss
@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 ;)
Avatar image for vigil80
Posted By Vigil80

I wonder if things would be different if the first Epic Mickey had delivered on the promise of the concept art.

Oh well. I'm confident Spector is off to bigger and better things. I hope the same can be said for the rest of the staff.

Avatar image for legendarychopchop
Posted By LegendaryChopChop

Seems like every single game studio is shutting down. Hope people like the EA/Activision/purely indie future with no middleground.

Avatar image for kpaadet
Posted By kpaadet

@arimajinn said:

Remember when Warren Spector used to make good games?

Barely.

Avatar image for steelerzfan101
Posted By steelerzfan101

Ah geez, thats a huge shame! Warren Spector seemed like a pretty ambitious dev! As I have been saying a lot recently, I hope everybody affected lands another job!

Avatar image for saganomics
Posted By Saganomics

@Pixeldemon said:

@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.

Yeah, pretty much this. Spector has credits in some of the most loved games* of all time so it's a bit confusing that he sunk so much effort into this Epic Mickey stuff.

*Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Deus Ex, Thief.

He's a huge Disney fan so it's not really confusing at all.

Avatar image for triviaman09
Posted By triviaman09

I really wish the Epic Mickey thing had worked out better than it did.

Avatar image for pixeldemon
Posted By Pixeldemon

@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.

Yeah, pretty much this. Spector has credits in some of the most loved games* of all time so it's a bit confusing that he sunk so much effort into this Epic Mickey stuff.

*Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Deus Ex, Thief.

Avatar image for evanbower
Edited By evanbower

@LikeaSsur 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.

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

Certainly. Take all of our examples together though and we can at least say the idea that "if your product is of high quality, capitalism will allow it to survive" is not a reliable rule. Not that I think the Epic Mickey franchise was some under-appreciated gem, just that what said was a poor explanation for their failure.

Avatar image for marz
Posted By Marz

sucks that people lost their jobs, Warren Spector one of my favorite game designers but what was he thinking with these Epic Mickey games!

Avatar image for fattony12000
Posted By Fattony12000

SPECTOR GANG SIGNS.

2423544-warrenspector.jpg
Avatar image for senate4242
Posted By Senate4242

@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.

Avatar image for nardak
Edited By Nardak
Avatar image for jay_ray
Posted By Jay_Ray

People want new consoles but new consoles will only magnify the all or nothing approach games are moving in. It simply costs to much money to make a boxed game that anything below 2+million in sales can be catastrophic.

Avatar image for subyman
Posted By subyman

With so many devs losing their jobs, maybe we will see a ton of indie games?

Avatar image for falling_fast
Posted By falling_fast

best of luck to everyone who was employed there on finding jobs in the future :(

still a little bit upset that Epic Mickey never lived up to its potential

Avatar image for mystyr_e
Posted By Mystyr_E

First problem was setting shop in Austin. Don't people know that it's a movie town? Games are not welcome there, ask the Old Republic /kappaface

Avatar image for professoress
Edited By ProfessorEss
@PimblyCharles said:

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.

Devil's Advocate/Silver Lining here but maybe this is exactly what we need. Maybe years from now this sad news of early 2013 will be remembered as the beginning of a restructuring that would benefit gaming in the long run.
 
I feel for all the people losing jobs, but maybe there is just too many jobs employing too many people who just aren't good and/or passionate enough. Maybe the industry is due for bit if a purge to separate the cream from the bloat and the and re-concentrate the talent into fewer superior teams, leading to fewer but superior releases.
Avatar image for coldwolven
Posted By Cold_Wolven

As to be expected when you make 2 games that both receive poor critical reception and produce weak sales.

Online
Avatar image for curufinwe
Posted By Curufinwe

@arimajinn said:

Remember when Warren Spector used to make good games?

I hope that he will do so again in the future.

Avatar image for arimajinn
Posted By arimajinn

Remember when Warren Spector used to make good games?

Avatar image for luck702
Posted By Luck702

Jesus, first THQ, then Atari, now this studio. This has been a pretty terrible month for the games industry.

Avatar image for ultimaxe
Posted By UltimAXE

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.

Avatar image for mordukai
Edited By mordukai

@umdesch4 said:

@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

According to VGchartz (so take the numbers with a grain of salt) the second game sold about 1.14 million across multiple platforms and while the number as a whole is a decent one it's still quite low if you consider the sales for each platform. Unfortunately the cold hard, and sometimes sad, fact of the video game industry is that you're only as good as the last game you made.

EDIT: I was referring to the second game. Fixed my comment.

Avatar image for esrever
Posted By ESREVER

Lotta Austin studios closin' up shop. Kinda weak... Oh well, at least there's a new Crytek studio here, for the time being.

Avatar image for iamjohn
Posted By iAmJohn

@Undeadpool said:

@iAmJohn: Remember that Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was ALSO called a disappointment despite selling 1.2 million copies as a BRAND-NEW IP.

It's true what they've been saying on the Bombcast: the days of games like Psi-Ops, War of the Monsters and even Twisted Metal (B-tier games) are over. Everything is now either indie or AAA-blockbuster with VERY little middleground and that's NOT a good place for an industry to be. I'm not saying it's the end of videogames, I'm saying it's going to be a very messy self-correction.

Reckoning wasn't called a disappointment by EA, though, otherwise I'd guess they wouldn't've entertained talks about the sequel. I don't particularly give a fuck what Lincoln Chaffe thinks is a sales success when he doesn't understand how the industry works or that the game could still be successful even if it didn't directly make 38 Studios money.

The one thing I'm hoping with the new generation is that we'll see the middle ground really come back. I don't think B-tier has gone away. If anything, I'd argue that Dead Island, Saints Row The Third and basically anything made by Kalypso or CD Projekt is proof that it's still around, but what it means to be a B-tier product is changing. But I agree with you that we're in a really dangerous space with where the consoles are now that you either have super expensive retail games that need to sell infinite copies or small downloadable games.

Avatar image for zerdune
Posted By zerdune

It would be cool if Spector went to work on Thief 4 or Dishonored 2.

Avatar image for mrfluke
Posted By mrfluke

bummer, Warren spector really believed in those games and that studio.

hope warren spector lands somewhere, he should go work with that edios team on the next deus ex.