Here's Why Disney Interactive Is A Disaster Area Right Now

the lion kingDisney’s Interactive segment is not selling video games.

Photo: Disney screencap

Yesterday, Disney Interactive announced a restructuring that resulted in the the loss of 50 jobs, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The move comes 18 months after an earlier restructuring resulted in a layoff of 200.

Disney Interactive was the only segment to report a decline in year-over-year revenue in Walt Disney Co.’s most recent quarterly report. Disney recorded Interactive revenue at $196 million for the first nine months of the fiscal year, a drop of $55 million from the year prior.

The Interactive segment consists of online sites including, and video games.  

So, what’s going wrong at Disney Interactive? 

Basically, people aren’t purchasing their video games.

Wrong audience
A closer look at the quarterly report shows a 20 per cent decrease in both game sales and subscription revenues over the past nine months, from $603 million to $484 million.  

The company’s most recent game titles show one problem may be a reliance on gearing games toward a younger audience. 

The company reported successful games of the past year included “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Cars 2,” and “Epic Mickey,” all which are targeted at audiences 10+, save the “Everyone” rating for the latter. The problem is that the core video game audience that spends the most money are older teens and adults, on violent big-console titles like “Mass Effect,” “Halo,” and “Call Of Duty.”

The games set for release in the second half of 2012 are mostly kiddie games, including “Wreck-It Ralph.” 

Another problem may be that that the majority of the Mouse House’s Interactive games are available on the Wii, as opposed to more popular PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. 

“Too busy” for Kingdom Hearts
CEO Bob Iger’s game unit has also failed to sustain on one of its most successful franchises because the studio team assigned to it is “too busy” with other projects. 

kingdom hearts video gameDisney’s Kingdom Hearts venture with Square Enix became one of Sony Playstation 2’s Greatest Hits.

Photo: Disney / Square Enix

A decade ago, the company along with Square (now Square Enix), released the popular “Kingdom Hearts” game, which merged classic Disney characters and storylines from “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast” and more, with characters from the long-running “Final Fantasy” franchise. The first game sold in 2002 became one of the best-selling PlayStation 2 games of all time in the U.S. Since 2009, the game has sold more than 11 million copies worldwide.  

The 2005 sequel, “Kingdom Hearts II” sold one million copies in a month— in a third the time of the first game.  

Instead of a third direct sequel, the franchise has churned out five other games playable on Nintendo’s Game Boy, mobile phone, and Playstation’s PSP systems. None of the smaller releases, save the most recent “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance,” released last month, have received the critical acclaim or commercial success of the big console games.

A long-rumoured third game has been in the works for years, spurring the creation of dozens of blog rumours about the future of the series; however, there’s no set date for a “Kingdom Hearts III.” 

Director Tetsuya Nomura commented on the wait in July, saying the team is “too busy” to work on another title.  

“The Kingdom Hearts team is currently too busy with other projects such as Final Fantasy Versus XIII to work on Kingdom Hearts III. They are doing research concerning the high-definition graphics of the game, and depending on the technical requirements of the next generation consoles, Kingdom Hearts III may see a release on existing platforms.”

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