Disney Admits It's Not So Great at Publishing Video Games, Prefers Licensing to EA

Disney Admits It's Not So Great at Publishing Video Games, Prefers Licensing to EA

Disney doesn't have time for games, what with world domination and all.

Disney, ever the humble mega corporation, admitted in a financial briefing today that it's never been good with video games. Instead, Disney's CEO Bob Iger prefers the current licensing model for games, including its partnership with EA on the Star Wars franchise.

"We're good at making films 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," Iger said in a Q&A portion for today's financial briefing with investors.

In recent years Disney seems to have written off its internal video game aspirations, selling Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Software in 2017, and shutting down Club Penguin Island in 2018. Meanwhile, Disney entered a licensing deal with EA that gave the publisher exclusive rights to develop video games for the Star Wars franchise.

The deal has resulted in Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2, and a handful of mobile games. But Star Wars Battlefront 2 also became the center of a massive controversy over its loot boxes, which has created legal challenges for the video game industry even today. EA is now working on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order through Respawn, and an unnamed Star Wars game at EA Vancouver.

Iger seems unfazed, however. "We're obviously mindful of the size of that [video game] business. 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," said Iger. "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."

In fact, Iger says Disney has "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."

EA's Star Wars license seems safe after seven years and two console games. As previously stated, EA's got two Star Wars games in the works from its studios, and we'll hopefully hear more about them in the future. Disney, meanwhile, won't be making the jump to video game development anytime soon it seems.

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Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

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