At an earnings call on Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger expressed that the Walt Disney Company hold absolutely no interest in returning to video games, as they were never able to “demonstrate much skill” when it comes to publishing them.
Disney will remove themselves from publishing and instead focus on licensing, Iger goes on to explain “We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the Star Wars properties, and we’re probably going to stay on that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere.”
Their NFC figure franchise Disney Infinity was scrapped in 2016, closing down developer Avalanche Software and seeing an end to all self-publishing efforts with the additional closure of Disney Interactive Studios itself. This gaming purge continued in 2018, with the shutdown of Club Penguin Island and the selling off of Emoji Blitz to mobile game developer Jam City.
Iger states “We’re good at making movies and television shows and theme parks and cruise ships and the like, we’ve just never managed to demonstrate much skill on the publishing side of games”.
In 2013 Disney partnered with Electronic Arts, giving the developer exclusive access to the video game rights of the Star Wars franchise, notably responsible for Star Wars Battlefront II. EA was also holding its earnings call at the same time as Disney, confirming that the new Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, would be out this year.
Iger finishes with “Over the years, as you know, we’ve tried our hand at self-publishing, we’ve bought companies, we’ve sold companies, we’ve bought developers, we’ve closed developers. And we’ve found over the years that we haven’t been particularly good at the self-publishing side, but we’ve been great at the licensing side which obviously doesn’t require that much allocation of capital.”