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Former exec speaks to the risk-averse nature of Disney's game biz

Years ago, game industry veteran Alex Seropian served as an executive within Disney's games division. Now, he speaks to TechInsider about how Disney went from embracing game development to abandoning it.
"Disney is very buttoned up, financially, to an extent that was surprising to me."

- Game industry veteran and former Disney Interactive game exec Alex Seropian.

Back in 2013, Disney charged into the toys-to-life game business with Disney Infinity. Three years in it's given up the charge, canning the venture and closing Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Studios.

As Disney Infinity's demise drives us to reexamine the future of the toys-to-life game industry, the folks at TechInsider try to get a sense of why Disney pulled the plug on internal game development and decided to focus purely on licensing its properties out to external game companies.

That includes interviewing onetime Disney Interactive exec Alex Seropian, who paints a picture of a company eager to make games but unfamiliar with -- and afraid of -- the financial risks that come with big-budget game development.

"You have to have enough scale to do four or five of these bets in order to make one of them pop and have a profit at the end," said Seropian. "If you're at a company that's well capitalized and has a 5-10 year view? Great, you can do that. There are very few companies like that, that go after that any more. Disney considered itself in that category in 2009 when I got there, but not too long after that they changed their minds."

Seropian is a game industry veteran who helped found Bungie Studios back in 1991 and led it through its 2000 acquisition by Microsoft. When comparing Microsoft's approach to game development to what he saw at Disney, Seropian notes that both companies were focused on their bottom lines -- but at Microsoft "there was a little more focus on the product....with a little bit more of, 'If we make the right thing the profits will come.'"

He says Disney was different, and you can read more of his comments on why that is (along with comments from Tom Eastman, a former developer at Wideload Games, which was cofounded by Seropian in 2003 and later acquired by Disney) in the full TechInsider article.

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