Disney Pursuing Stronger, Closer Ties To The Video Gaming Business?

Still scratching your head over the past two years as to why Netflix made some aggressive moves in the gaming space? Now comes word that Walt Disney might be looking to re-energize its video gaming business.

Disney has had an uneasy video gaming history starting in 1988 -- under many iterations. 

In 2016, it stopped Disney Interactive Studios, the in-house unit developing video games of its intellectual property.

Instead it turned to third-party developers like Electronic Arts and at the time, Warner Bros. Games, offering licensing deals to do the heavy lifting.

But a recent Bloomberg report now suggests insiders are pressing Bob Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney Company, to make a bigger splash in the video game arena -- which could include acquiring big gaming producers and publishers, such as Electronic Arts. 



Sean Shoptaw, head of gaming for Walt Disney, downplayed that report to Axios.

Instead, Shoptaw said the direction is to continue to boost external development of its content through outside publishers for the best business result. This includes the likes of Electronic Arts' successful “Star Wars” games.

It’s easy to understand this possible move. With other businesses continuing to suffer, like linear TV, all legacy media companies are searching high and low to find other revenue growth in dormant or neglected media-related endeavors.

Netflix now looks like it caught this wave early -- like back in 2021 when it hired Mike Verdu, a former Electronic Arts and Facebook, executive to be vice president of game development.

And why? As most successful forward-looking companies do, it is trying to boost the effort to gain access to a younger media crowd, which have been the solid dominant consumers of video game software, games, services and products.

And Disney continues to have big potential here, especially with brands that focus on superhero/fantasy theme films including Pixar, Marvel,  Star Wars, Disney, and 20th Century Studios.

But Shoptaw knows it isn't a layup. Even when you have great IP, he told Axios the obvious: Making a successful video game is still really hard.

Still, one wonders where this might all go -- at least for Disney anyway. After all, Iger -- upon his return around a year ago -- said the company needed to get back to what it does best. And that is ‘storytelling”.

The bottom line is that Disney might have a master plan to get closer to actual in-house development of video games, possibly through an acquisition. Could this then result -- somewhere in the future -- to a better form of  ‘storytelling.’?


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