In a fascinating speech at the 2020 DICE Summit, Sean Shoptaw (senior vp games and interactive experiences at Disney) stated that Disney wants developers to explore the creative possibilities of their various franchises.
“I’m here for one specific reason: to empower you to do really unique things with our [catalog],” Shoptaw says. “We want to tap into the power of creatives across the industry.”
Shoptaw also referenced Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man for PS4 as two examples of studios telling new stories within Disney controlled properties and achieving critical and sales success as a result. The overall message seems to have been for other studios to come to Disney with their own original pitches for future titles.
There are a few things that have to be said about that before we move on. First off, as we’re sure you may be wondering, EA does seemingly still control the exclusive rights to develop and produce Star Wars games for the time being. As such, we do not imagine that Shoptaw was talking about that particular property. Disney also has a long-running working relationship with Square Enix, but it doesn’t seem that Square Enix controls the exclusive rights to any property outside of the nature of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
Regardless, this is a very exciting initiative that we hope Disney continues to support in the future. Shoptaw was right to identify Fallen Order and Spider-Man as two examples of the kinds of games they hope to support as part of this philosophy. Not only did each tell an original story, but each title was a single-player game that represented the particular talents of their developers. Those are all things we could use more of in the video game industry.
So far as that goes, it doesn’t hurt that said games are based on established franchises. With certain major publishers (we won’t name names, EA and Activision) seemingly determined to push more multiplayer experiences based on existing game properties, it’s certainly possible that the natural selling power of the Disney names could help studios to pitch largely original titles that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise make.
The question now is “Which properties will developers pursue?” Obviously, we may see more Marvel games in the future, but you also have to remember that Disney now owns the rights to particular Fox properties. That could mean that films like Alien or even shows like The Simpsons could get more video game adaptations in the future.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.