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Disney's Hopper: Gaming Press Should 'Recognize' Kids' Game Market

As part of an in-depth new Gamasutra interview, Disney Interactive GM Graham Hopper has been discussing the company's wide-ranging portfolio, suggesting that it's
As part of an in-depth new Gamasutra interview, Disney Interactive GM Graham Hopper has been discussing the company's wide-ranging portfolio, suggesting that it's "regrettable" that some parts of the video game press "don't recognize when a game is trying to be different" in targeting a family market. Discussing the wide-ranging portfolio of licenses that Disney brings to bear on the game biz, including many strong Disney Channel properties and the Pixar movies, Hopper suggests: "One of the things we have a strong, vested interest in is the whole notion of licensed games based on movies or Disney properties or so on. The games are not generally as good as they could be, so everybody gets lumped in the same box. But because we own so much of our own content, we have a strong, vested interest in changing that, and we are trying to change it. I think sometimes it's regrettable that there are some segments of the gaming press that don't recognize when a game is trying to be different. It's easy to say, "This is for kids. It's not fun," or whatever. But I'm hoping that there is going to be recognition that games are designed for different audiences, and should be viewed and rated and judged appropriately. The other thing to this is that some people who sometimes people feel that games that aren't suited for core gamers are somehow diminishing the industry. I don't think that's the case. And I think the gaming industry has a long way to go in terms of growth and appealing to more people. I don't see a situation where core gamers are being left in the dust, with no games being made for them, because kids or families are being addressed." Continuing this particular theme - which has particular resonance because Disney was the number two handheld game publisher through much of the data available in 2007, Hopper notes: "I talked to a lot of people, particularly people that have kids, about what they're looking for, and why aren't these people looking for games that they can play with their kids. And they were gamers. I don't know how many gamers you've talked to that have stopped gaming because they got married and had kids, and it just didn't fit into their lives anymore the way it used to. I think for us, to create great content that appeals to a broad audience, it's not just about selling to kids. We want something that grown-ups will want to play with their kids, and that gamers will play. I think Kingdom Hearts is a great example of what they can do. There are plenty of single guys in their 20s who love Kingdom Hearts. There are plenty of families that have played it, and kids that have played it, and that's the kind of model we're looking for. Not everything we do is going to be designed to appeal to everyone, so when we create a game like... we just had a [Disney] Princess Wii title. When we create something like that, we're bringing young girls into the world of the Wii, and into gaming for the first time ever. When we saw what we could do with the controller, think of it as a magic wand moving through a world. It creates magic and excitement and joy for kids. Would a core gamer want to play it? No. But if it was designed for a core gamer, no kid would be able to access it. We try to focus our product to specific segments, and make sure that we are appealing to them. People will see some games and say, "These are not right for me." They shouldn't assume they are of bad quality. In fact, I think they are high quality to the audience they are intended. They are designed with accessibility and ease-of-use to a specific audience. When you play Turok, that's done as a brand new game for us, but that is a hardcore-type game. We know that we're designing for the right audience." You can now read the full interview with Disney Interactive's Hopper at Gamasutra, including much more on the company's relationships with creators such as Warren Spector and Kingdom Hearts' Tetsuya Nomura, as well as Disney's studio purchases and licensor relationships.

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