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Disney's bottom line improves as it turns its back on consoles
Disney's bottom line improves as it turns its back on consoles
November 9, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

Disney's been phasing out its traditional console game development in favor of a larger focus on social and mobile, and it seems to be working out.

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.

The company did manage to release a handful of console games this past year -- Disney Universe and a low budget tie-in to the film Brave being the highlights -- but for the most part it has transformed itself into a digital company.

Fiscal 2012 saw a lot of revenue generated by mobile games Gardens of Time, Temple Run: Brave and Where's My Water which, while technically a fiscal 2011 release, hit its stride in the last year.

The company hasn't abandoned consoles completely: a big multiplatform sequel to the Wii-exclusive Epic Mickey is due later this month. However, the company has no currently announced plans for further console development.

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.

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Chris Melby
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Disney should make their parks free-to-play! It would go well with what seems to be a reactionary business plan.

Anyone else remember when Lucas Arts used to make good games? I do! It was back when PCs were still their primary focus and substance and story were more important than tEh HARDCORE and now the social fart cloud; so phases, unlike the PC.

But on a positive note, I'm looking forward to Epic Mickey on the Wii-U and 3DS.

John Woznack
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Ah, Day of the Tentacle...good times, good times.

Adam Rebika
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These were the days when they were in games development, not Star Wars branded goodies digital development.

Nicholas Gatewood
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"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."

Epic Mickey ran at 480p, that's not really HD at all. Either way, that's the only title on that entire list that I'm even remotely interested in playing, all the others casual nonsense and I don't really see anything changing with their recent smartphone push. I'm disappointed with Disney and all other publishers that start to put their focus into smartphone gaming, didn't the bubble already burst? It's just so shameful to see so many major representatives of the greatest entertainment industry in the world lower themselves to mobile development, David Jaffe and Hironobu Sakaguchi being two recent console-to-smartphone migrants that depress me immensely. Oh well, at least that means less competition for me in a few years. :/

David Croeser
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I wouldn't be so quick to write off game developers who have made the move to mobile. AAA console development can be very creatively restrictive. For many developers mobile represents a return to the pure fun of game development.

k s
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I wouldn't criticize people for going the path that will let them be more creative. The AAA market has become so bloated that it's very hard to take risks and so publishers will only let you make games they think are guaranteed to sell millions. Mobile on the other hand has very low development costs and so you can be as creative as you want but sadly the interfaces for mobile aren't very good :(

I see Ouya (and anything down the line like it) as bridging the gap between the two, offering the freedom to make what ever kind of game you want but with out the ridiculous budgets of AAA.

Luis Guimaraes
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They went pc-to-console first so this was an obvious foresight.

TC Weidner
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Following their logic, why not leave gaming altogether and not lose any money?

E Zachary Knight
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Their goal is to make money not stay at the same level of money they are currently at. They want to make games, but they also want to make profitable games. Making console games is not profitable for them, so they are moving to segments of the market that are profitable for them. Why is that hard to understand?