Despite rumored plans to expand the toys-come-to-life Disney Infinity game to include new acquisitions like the Marvel and Star Wars brands, Disney is reportedly laying off hundreds of individuals currently working in its interactive software branch.
The job cuts are rumored to hit tomorrow and come after a possibly less than anticipated reaction to Disney Infinity which saw strong competition with the genre originator Skylanders in 2013. When I say genre, I mean games that require a peripheral platform and a collection of toys to fully enjoy. Obviously, Disney Infinity differs from Skylanders in that it has a more open-ended Toy Box mode, while Skylanders leans on Diablo-esque gameplay where leveling up the toys themselves is the focus.
Competing with Activision’s Skylanders should become quite easy once Disney adds Marvel and Star Wars brands to the Infinity line of games, also rumored with this news, but that can’t come soon enough to stave off job cuts that number in the hundreds.
Specifically, the Disney.com website, Playdom (a social gaming company acquired in 2010), and other interactive software divisions will receive job cuts or will be closed altogether. Previously, Disney released the entirety of historic developer LucasArts after buying LucasFilm and the Star Wars license from creator George Lucas.
The Wall Street Journal reported (log in required) the story and says that the interactive software unit at Disney has about 3,000 employees, so this isn’t the end of the company’s video game development by a long shot.
Disney Infinity itself was received well both commercially and critically leading to a $16 million profit at the end of September 2013, obviously a massive turn around from the $76 million dollar loss from a year earlier.
Disney has yet to comment on this story but it feels like they’re always laying off someone in the game development division, so I expect this to be confirmed tomorrow when the layoffs actually occur.
Shout out to DaVillain who PM’d me to make sure we covered this story. With so much turn over in the games industry, it seems like developers taking contacts at places like Disney should know when to expect these kinds of job cuts, but we nonetheless hope that anyone losing his or her job as a result of this restructuring the best. If you’d like to share your opinions or experiences working at Disney, or if you have other news we should cover, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.