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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.

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.

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171 Comments
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Edited by Bourbon_Warrior

@evanbower said:

@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.

Despite this article saying Epic Mickey's first game was unsuccessful it is quite untrue, it sold 1.3 million in USA alone and that was a Wii exclusive, Epic Mickey 2 sold around 300,000 by the end of 2012 and that is available on PS3, 360, Wii, Wii U, PC and Mac.

So either the first Epic Mickey wasn't well received by the consumer which led to the bad sales of the sequel or maybe it was the publishers fault for pushing it out during the Royal Rumble of November, maybe the publisher rushed it out the door to make the Wii U launch, which if history tells us anything, even the most mediocre games can sell alot along side a console launch, which also makes this astonishing how low the sales numbers are.

Epic Mickey 2 was also a 3D platformer, a genre that just doesn't sell well anymore, the first probably sold alright because of nostalgia using Mickey Mouse plus it was a Wii exclusive, in a time where really the only Wii exclusives were Nintendo developed games, shitty motion controlled games or Japanese RPG's that don't sell well in America, also it had the name Warren Spector attached to it, which many informed gamers know as a game producer that has produced quality titles in his career, so a dark Mickey Mouse game developed by a Warren Spector studio sounded fantastic on paper.

Another way of looking at it is the Metacritic score, Epic Mickey 1 has a Metacritic score of 73, Epic Mickey 2 has an score between the lowest being the Wii U version of 56 to the highest score being on the Wii of 64 on the Wii U, so the critics have said this wasn't a great game, we are a more informed consumer these days, we will not buy a game just because the back of the box looks cool and the consumer told Junction Point that with their wallet.

Posted by Bourbon_Warrior

@Thiefsie said:

@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.

You must be young...

Posted by jmood88

I still want a game that looks like that concept art.

Posted by DG991

@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

2 million according to that list...

Posted by wisdumcube

Given how disappointing Epic Mickey 2's sales were, this is not very surprising. I think it sold 250k at launch vs. the original's 1.5 million (and the sequel was on more platforms, ouch). I guess a lot of people bought into the hype and were burned the first time around and were not willing to give the second one a chance. I can't say I didn't see that coming nor was it undeservedly panned, but its always sad to see a bunch of people lose their jobs in such a competitive, thankless industry.

Posted by Shaunage

This seems to be a really bad time to make video games. Can you imagine if a company in Hollywood closed every single time a movie wasn't a big hit?

Posted by Robo

You mean I won't get to hear people hem and haw struggling to give another lackluster Epic Mickey iteration a pass because it should be great since one guy's name is on it and it once had some interesting concept art?

Aww...

Posted by YukoAsho

@Shaunage said:

This seems to be a really bad time to make video games. Can you imagine if a company in Hollywood closed every single time a movie wasn't a big hit?

Yeah. And to think, the media's braying for new hardware so it can be even more expensive to make games.

Granted, Disney was never a good publisher and likely never will be (yeah, they had some good games, but never stuck behind them), and THQ made some really crap decisions (uDraw and Red Faction: Armageddon among them), but we're only going to have two or three game publishers soon, with no cheapening of the costs of production in sight to allow for non-major publishing the way we see with film.

Posted by Sunjammer

This is what happens when the games you make simply aren't good enough. I really wish Epic Mickey had been something special, but it wasn't. I hope everybody involved goes on to greater things.

Online
Posted by Blunt

Make shitty games - go out of business.

What a scoop!

Posted by reichaos

My best to everybody put out of a job by this decision. It's unfortunate that so many closures of one sort or another have been happening so recently, but hopefully everyone will land on their feet.

Posted by Glottery

Don't know if the big audience would've enjoyed American McGee's level of twistedness any better in the end, but I certainly would've bought it. Or well, If I would own a Wii, that is...

Posted by PenguinDust

Sad but not surprising. Epic Mickey 2 made 75% less than the first game and it was available on more platforms. Epic Mickey 1 performed well enough to earn a sequel but you can't expect Disney to keep pouring money into a failing franchise when they have other options. If the studio existed purely for Epic Mickey games, then its closing was inevitable.

Edited by Kosayn

This past console generation has slowly pushed most of the also-ran AAA developers out of the conventional genres. The folks who tried to make a 1st person military shooter that wasn't CoD, a character action game that wasn't Mario or Zelda, or an MMO that wasn't WoW mostly got burned really badly for attempting it.

Epic Mickey wasn't the right kind of game for me, and neither was Darksiders. Even so, it's sad to see any promising new franchise get out-competed.

The next generation machines will sort out some of this industry malaise. The end of the cycle is always the best time for an enthusiast to play the most polished games, but the worst time for the industry trying to sell them.

Posted by Inquisitor

Hoping for another Deus Ex calibre kind of game by Warren in the future.

Posted by PliggeTheFallen

Not surprising, but still very sad. I really hope the employees find some new homes.

Posted by kylekrane

The gulf between what Epic Mickey could have been (should have been) and what we got is really depressing. I'm not a game designer and even I know that in 2010 you don't design a game with a limited number of lives that punishes a player for not adapting to poor controls.

It sucks. I want a do over.

Posted by picko19

Feel sorry for Warren he comes across as such a great guy and he loves Disney, but the games just didn't perform.

Posted by jsmoke

this kind of surprises me. i guess the disney brand can't sell EVERYTHING. wonder what spector has ahead of him...though i think he's not going to get involved with too many violent games

Posted by whitespider

Warren is a family man, I respect that. However he let it his "pass it down to the children" approach cloud his originality and creativity. In my opinion.

A lot of people change their views on things as they have children, and that's great. However I refuse to accept that someone in their 40's, 50's or even 60's has to become more submissive or passive in their driving force.

A lot of people say that a certain period in their 20's, or 30's is their personal 'peak' - and I really don't think that has to be true at all. I think with enough effort, and provided that health does not get in the way - someone can make pretty much any period "their peak".

I am approaching 30, and I have to fight to keep my outlooks ambitious. (Just went to film school). Yet it's definitely something worth fighting FOR. Come back warren. I missed you. Show me something new and contemporary. Show me something groundbreaking.

Don't make a game for your children, make a game for YOU. And if they are one in the same, then try and get in touch with the YOU again.

Posted by Murdoc_

@whitespider: Watch his master classes that he did at University of Texas, it really shows where his passion is and the man has still "got it".

Even one of the early concepts for Epic Mickey at JP was far more inline with something we'd like then what was released.

JPs demise was Disney through and through.