Warren Spector’s lessons learned from Epic Mickey

Warren Spector has never been afraid to polarize gamers. He is, in many ways, the epitome of the “go big or go home” style of game making – and he’ll be the first to tell you that he’d rather fail in spectacular fashion than do something that bores him.

But there has never been a split like Epic Mickey. It was a game that was beloved by some and ripped to shreds by others. It was the best selling single-platform game in Disney’s history — but critics thumped Disney for leaving money on the table, citing the game’s decision to release exclusively on the Nintendo Wii and its post-Thanksgiving release date.

Read more at Gamasutra

Metacritic taking a toll on game makers

During his lengthy career as a video game developer, Warren Spector has had his share of commercial hits and misses, but he’s rarely had a critical failure.

His 2010 release Epic Mickey split critics, however. Some heaped praise upon it, while others panned it harshly. Those diametrically opposed views gave the game a fairly low Metacritic score — the lowest mark Spector had ever received.

Read more at Yahoo! Games

The Money Making Game #5: The Disney Situation

We certainly have no problem getting caught up in the fun of playing games, but the people who create them have their pocketbooks to worry about, too. In this column, finance expert and GameSpy contributor Chris Morris guides you through the tricky corridors the gaming industry’s financial side, touching on big-time business decisions and how they matter to the common gamer.

Disneyland might be the happiest place on Earth, but at the game development studios of the theme park’s parent company… well, that’s a different story. Sweeping changes are underway at the studio behind Split/Second and Epic Mickey, as new management takes over and the company’s focus shifts. It’s a harsh reality of business — but it’s a frustrating one for gamers, since after years of struggling as an also-ran in the gaming world, Disney was finally showing some promise.

The situation at the so-called “Mouse House” is pretty grim for traditional game-makers. In late January 2011, hundreds were laid off in an ugly bloodletting at Disney Interactive Studios (DIS) and Disney’s Interactive Media Group (DIMG). And the terse statement that was released by the company hinted that another round could be on the way.

Read more at GameSpy

Disney loses its Interactive head

Steve Wadsworth, president of Disney’s Interactive Media Group – the division overseeing video games, online virtual worlds and the company’s mobile efforts – has resigned after an 11-year tenure with the company. 

The departure leaves a vacuum at one of the company’s most important – but often troubled – divisions.

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog

Disney becomes a player

While Disney might be one of the biggest forces in the film and television industries, it has always been something of an also-ran in the gaming world. Despite a deep catalog of characters and properties to draw from, the company has licensed out potential hits to other publishers and focused mainly on the kid and tween market.

That’s changing fast these days. The company has tripled its investment in video games and staffed up to over 1,200 people (notably bigger than Microsoft’s internal game-building team). It’s also bringing on high-level talent, like industry legend Warren Spector (Deus Ex) and Bungie Studios co-founder Alex Seropian (Halo).

Read more at Yahoo! Games

Epic Mickey gets a comic book

Disney’s reintroduction of Mickey Mouse to the video game world is expanding into other mediums.

Beyond the work he is doing on “Epic Mickey,” developer Warren Spector is working on a comic book adaptation of the Wasteland world where the game is set. Comic and sci-fi superstar Peter David is assisting on the book (and likely doing most of the writing).

Read more at Variety’s Technotainment blog