Gamasutra has an article stating what has already been well known: Disney’s days as a console publisher are pretty much over.
The company says that its Interactive division lost $216 million during its last fiscal year, which wrapped up September 29. That sounds like a lot, but it compares favorably to the $308 million it lost the previous year.
That year saw a big console push that saw the launch of major, HD games that included Disney Epic Mickey, Tron Evolution, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars 2.
Here’s the kicker (emphasis mine):
In fact, when the company made a surprise acquisition of Lucasfilm (and its video game division, LucasArts), it said of its newly-acquired Lucas IP that it would still make new games, but they would be in the social and mobile space. Any console games would, more than likely, be released by other companies licensing its properties.
Translation: enjoy those cell phone games. Though to be fair, Where’s My Water is very good.
Now, I’ve heard people talking about the impact this sale will have on the Star Wars franchise – most people I’ve heard from expect great things away from George Lucas’s interference – but Josh Moore looked at how the LucasFilm acquisition looked for games, and it wasn’t positive. I have to concur, reminding people that shareholders weren’t even bullish on the company making their own games at all. In short, anyone hoping for a revision of LucasArts’ best games from the past is going to be disappointed. Sorry, Grim Fandango fans.
What’s interesting is what this will mean for Disney’s big names, such as (obviously) Star Wars. The big name game out right now is Star Wars: The Old Republic, but their publisher, EA, just had their COO make great pains to state that they’re taking no chances going forward. Will “chances” for EA even involve the console market in a couple of years? Beyond that, then what? Who will take the Star Wars mantle and do something profound with it? By the time Star Wars 7 comes out, there might not be much of a console market left. Will it be left to little more than cell games with in-app purchases? Or Facebook collaboration? As a businessman, the thought of a 100% digital future like this is a gleeful one of high margins and digital rights management. As a gamer, it makes me cringe.
Want the biggest example of where Disney’s going with their video game market? They just released a movie about a retro video game character to wide acclaim, designed specifically to cater to video gamers like myself, and yet the video game versions are for the Wii, 3DS and DS (the DS!), the industry’s most casual systems, and they are bog-standard platformers… published by Activision.