Noah J Nelson on Thursday, Mar. 6th
Two big stories in the games world today.
First up: a wave of expected cuts hit Disney Interactive today. 700 lay-offs as the Mouse House consolidates its interactive division. Variety has the nuts and bolts details, but the gist of it is this: Disney is focusing its efforts. Disney Interactive has a broad mandate: everything from websites to mobile and console games. A younger company might structure such business units differently, rather than aligning them all under the same structure.
Disney Interactive found one of its biggest successes yet in the form of Disney Infinity, the console game that mixes collectible figurines with video game play, this past holiday season. There’s no reason to expect that this franchise will be particularly hurt by the cuts, even with 26% of the total staff of Disney Interactive being let go.
Mass layoffs are a fairly common occurrence in the games industry; which isn’t to say they are any less painful for those who find themselves with pink slips. It does serve as an abject lesson for those who enter the industry with stars in their eyes. The business involves absurdly long hours as a game is rushed to market, and when the release date hits the ax often follows soon after.
Game production at large studios resembles the rhythm of film and television production in this way. Staffing is ramped up as production heads towards release, and then the team is winnowed back down when the job is through.
The other big news: Sony’s Jack Tretton, the face of Sony Computer Entertainment America as its CEO and President, is stepping down. He’s been with the company from the beginning, and has played a key role in the launch of every Playstation console. 19 years on the job seems to be the limit, however.
This turn was unexpected by the gaming press, and comes on the heels of the news that the fan-favorite creator of the Uncharted series has left the Sony owned Naughty Dog studio. IGN reports that Henning was forced out of the studio as part of an internal power struggle.
This is supposed to be the quiet months for the games industry, but I guess those don’t happen anymore. Next week Titanfall hits, which Microsoft needs to be a smash hit in order to change the industry narrative over the new generation of consoles.