Report: Seropian To Lead Games At Disney Interactive As Layoffs Approach 200

Details are emerging about the ongoing restructuring at Disney: Media reports peg the number laid off at 200 so far -- and likely growing -- as former Wideload head Alex Seropian steps up to oversee the games business.
As Disney restructures its interactive entertainment division, VP of creative Alex Seropian will reportedly step up to oversee the division's games business, as the present extent of layoffs at the company begins to clarify. Disney Interactive, which houses the company's digital media and gaming efforts, recently revealed it was making big cutbacks. A new report in the Los Angeles Times now says that about 200 employees have been affected thus far, with more likely to lose jobs in the coming months as execs John Pleasants and James Pitaro try to restore the division's profitability. Disney has struggled to take marketshare in the gaming business, despite heavy investments. These include the acquisition of social developer Playdom -- which brought Pleasants, the studio's chief, on board -- and that of Wideload, the studio Seropian founded after his work on Halo. As noted in the report, Disney Interactive has lost a net $787 million over the last three fiscal years, against revenues of nearly $2.2 billion. After lackluster sales for many of its game tie-ins, the company banked on the Tron: Evolution title, developed by Propaganda games -- a studio it closed when the title couldn't crack a million units. The restructuring is Disney's attempt to stem its struggles in the games sector. Seropian will not only take charge of Disney Interactive's game development, but is now also responsible for its remaining studios, Black Rock, Junction Point, Avalanche, Wideload and Gamestar, according to the report. Another exec who joined Disney through acquisition will also take an expanded role: Club Penguin boss Lane Merrifield has added responsibilities for heading up kid and family-oriented game initiatives. Disney purchased Club Penguin, maker of the kids' virtual world by the same name, in 2007, when the deal was valued at $700 million. However, $350 million of that amount was based on earn-out targets that Club Penguin ultimately missed.

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