Yesterday, Disney announced that their game studio responsible for Disney Infinity will be closing. On a human side, this is devastating. Many talented game designers are going to lose their jobs which is not a thing anyone wants to see. However, amongst the turmoil, there is a silver lining for fans of Disney. Now that Disney is not focusing on game development any more, this frees up their intellectual property (IP) to be licensed out to other developers. This presents a wonderful opportunity for a new era of Disney games.
Lets be honest, Disney games are not always of the highest quality. Generally most gamers do not get excited over the prospects of a new Disney game. By licensing their games, Disney can seek out and find developers who can take big risks and create amazing experiences. For a majority of Disney Interactive’s life, they did not take giant risks while developing games. Granted these game are designed for a younger audience but that does mean they have to be generic. Would a game like Disney Infinity be fun if it did not have any Disney IP?
Probably not. That is why licensing their games can add a new level of excitement. In addition, licensing is generally a less risky strategy. Disney just lost $147 million with Infinity. I doubt they are going to be interested in investing into an undertaking similar to that any time soon. Therefore, licensing their IP would be shifting/sharing the burden of these costs with another developer and will be a less risky proposition for Disney to undertake. A fresh developer can breathe new life into Disney’s IP while Disney does not have to take on all the risks.
Disney has had success in the past with working with other studios. In 2014, Harmonix, developer of Rock Band, created a unique game based on Fantasia. In 1980, Disney collaborated with Capcom, developer of Mega Man, and created a Ducktales game that is considered one of the greatest side-scrolling platformers of all time. Last but definitely not least is Kingdom Hearts – the most successful Disney game ever made.
The reason why this game is so special is partially due to Disney taking a back seat during it development. They let the talented people at Square Enix create a whole new world that took the worlds of Final Fantasy and combined them with Disney. This was a huge undertaking and a massive risk. However, it paid off because the game is considered to be one of the greatest RPG’s of all time and cultivated a massive fanbase that is extremely passionate about the game.
However, not all games are going to have the success of Kingdom Hearts, but if Disney doubles down on this strategy then hopefully it can pay off. I think that there is an audience out there who wants a Disney game to be something special and unique. Hopefully, Disney can seize this opportunity and partner with some amazing game character and we can finally have a constant stream of Disney games that can excite this passionate fan base.
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