A leaked memo from Disney CEO Bob Iger has revealed that Disney has combined its Interactive Studios operation (which includes the likes of Warren Spector’s Junction Point, Black Rock and Propaganda and a publishing operation) – with its MMO and mobile unit Walt Disney Internet Group.
Called the Disney Interactive Media Group, and unified effective immediately, the move comes to "take advantage of rapid advancements in interactive digital media across all platforms as well as the convergence of connected console, Internet and mobile-based games", Iger said in the communique with Disney staff.
It sounds like little else will change, except for the fact Disney now boasts a centralised games interest, as Iger said "existing management teams will continue to run the combined group".
Steve Wadsworth, former head of the Walt Disney Internet Group will step up to lead this new combined business, working with current Interactive Studios head Graham Hopper to "optimize new opportunities" the doubled-up team up creates.
The new unit, he added, "will have global responsibility for development and distribution of all Disney-branded interactive digital media and entertainment for all digital interactive platforms".
The move makes sense, and comes at an ideal time – previously the Internet group’s offering, which includes Disney’s mobile games development efforts and its booming youth-orientated MMO Club Penguin, seemed a little distanced from the traditional boxed-product produced by Disney Interactive Studios’ teams. And there was some, seemingly uncoordinated, overlap such as the differing Pirates of the Carribbean console, mobile and MMO titles.
Plus, Disney will now be able to report its interactive entertainment revenues in one big lump – as console games would now be separate from ‘home entertainment’ goods like DVD – when it comes to communicating with shareholders. This would help further prove that its vast investment in games (a topic touted by both of the divisions before being merged) is paying off, and that the company is competing correctly in the digital age.
Clearly, that point was on Iger’s mind. The remainder of his memo to Disney’s interactive entertainment staff reads:
"Digital media is a high priority for our company, and focusing all of our Disney-branded interactive digital media efforts in one group will ensure we are best positioned to maximize this emerging and dynamic opportunity. We have made fantastic progress through the efforts of Disney Internet Group and Disney Interactive Studios, and the combined organization will maximize the experience, expertise and talent of both groups across all platforms to be a world-class interactive digital media company.
"The uniqueness of the Disney brand provides us an opportunity and an imperative to create a unified Disney-branded experience and community across all connected devices. Additionally, as console and handheld games become more connected to the Internet, and as Internet and mobile become increasingly robust destinations for games and a range of interactive entertainment, we are taking this opportunity to integrate these activities.
"We have strong momentum in place in all of our digital media areas, and I’m confident that the newly combined DIMG management team will create one new organization that is well-integrated to maximize the opportunities that we have before us.
"Thank you for your great work to date and for what you will do in the future, as we strive to be the very best in the digital media and entertainment space. "