Disney Interactive Confirms Restructuring As Devs Suffer Layoffs

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Posted by BradNicholson (812 posts) -

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. 
#1 Posted by BradNicholson (812 posts) -

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. 
#2 Edited by xseedx (52 posts) -

Man. Sad news.

#3 Posted by Hailinel (22712 posts) -
@fwylo:  There's something incredibly tasteless about posting that image against news of mass layoffs.
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#4 Posted by Chris2KLee (2308 posts) -

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.

#5 Posted by MysteriousBob (6273 posts) -

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

#6 Posted by Mcfart (1425 posts) -

Good luck to the layoffs.

#7 Posted by CaLe (3678 posts) -

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.

#8 Posted by MisterMouse (3531 posts) -

major bummer.

#9 Posted by fox01313 (5033 posts) -

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

#10 Posted by El_Derrico (205 posts) -

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

#11 Posted by ch13696 (4582 posts) -

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

#12 Posted by Jayross (2365 posts) -

250 O.o whoa... that sucks.

#13 Posted by HarlequinRiot (1098 posts) -

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? 

#14 Posted by chogi (546 posts) -

SAVE JOHNNY V!

#15 Posted by SpicyRichter (496 posts) -

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

#16 Posted by President_Barackbar (3344 posts) -

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

#17 Posted by MattyFTM (14244 posts) -

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

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#18 Posted by TheHT (10281 posts) -

Damn, and more to come?

#19 Posted by onarum (1945 posts) -

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.

#20 Posted by NakAttack (1289 posts) -
@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.
#21 Posted by Deathpooky (1342 posts) -

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.

#22 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2343 posts) -

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

#23 Posted by MikkaQ (10225 posts) -

Man that's a bummer. 

#24 Posted by BenLaserlove (47 posts) -

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.

#25 Posted by SirThirdFilms (153 posts) -

Johnny V told me yesterday he is fine.

#26 Posted by Hailinel (22712 posts) -

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.

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#27 Posted by WilliamHenry (1195 posts) -

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

#28 Posted by El_Derrico (205 posts) -

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.

#29 Posted by Hailinel (22712 posts) -
@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.
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#30 Posted by Pabba (286 posts) -

That really sucks. Job loss, no matter what, just sucks.
#31 Edited by ProfessorEss (7123 posts) -

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)

#32 Posted by Woodroez (339 posts) -

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?
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#33 Posted by Hailinel (22712 posts) -
@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.
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#34 Edited by ProfessorEss (7123 posts) -
@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?)
#35 Posted by ajamafalous (11591 posts) -
@President_Barackbar said:
" Ok people, NOW is when you can start worrying about Johnny V's job. "
#36 Posted by Zamir (506 posts) -

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

#37 Posted by Brodehouse (9370 posts) -

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.

#38 Posted by OneManFreakShow (98 posts) -

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

#39 Edited by heatDrive88 (2173 posts) -

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.

#40 Posted by Whizbang (103 posts) -

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

#41 Posted by Tactical_Kill (1695 posts) -

That sucks. Hopefully Johnny V is safe.

#42 Edited by Gabriel (4050 posts) -

Look like WBI won this battle.

#43 Posted by jebner10 (8 posts) -

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

#44 Posted by aurahack (2229 posts) -

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. 

#45 Posted by Xshinobi (357 posts) -

I really hope Blackrock stays together.

#46 Posted by Kyle (2323 posts) -

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

#47 Posted by detectivepbert (262 posts) -

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

#48 Posted by Hailinel (22712 posts) -
@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.
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#49 Posted by JohnPaulVann (209 posts) -

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

#50 Posted by evildeadron (820 posts) -
@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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