Today's a sad day for any old school graphic adventurer (such as myself) who grew up wandering every inch of Maniac Mansion looking for that damned can of gas, and then finally finding it on Mars while playing Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. For those of you who know what the hell I'm talking about, understand we're a dying breed of gamer, but I digress. The real story here is in the headline. Disney, less than five months after prying Lucasfilm from George Lucas' hands for $4.05 billion, has decided to close the LucasArts game studio. Go ahead and tip your grog glass over the pavement.
Some long time fans of Star Wars are afraid of what will become of their favorite franchise now that Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion (to be fair, Disney's done a good job with Marvel assets, like The Avengers movie), but as an old school adventure gamer, I'm even more concerned with what fate awaits old friends like Guybrush Threepwood (The Secret of Monkey Island) and Bernard (Maniac Mansion). So is Ron Gilbert, the guy who created both games (along with Gary Winnick, who co-conceived Maniac Mansion).
Die hard fans of the iconic Star Wars franchise are freaking out after learning that George Lucas just sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion, but after suffering through a trio of sequels that brought Jar Jar Binks into the world, maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Regardless, it happened, and Disney is already planning a new Star Wars movie, which it's targeting for a 2015 release.
Just a Holiday heads up for you all. Starting today, Google has added a raft of Disney movies to is YouTube-based movie rental service. Classics like Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh are available, but new titles like Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean are there too. It appears that Apple’s super-close relationship with Disney wasn’t enough to keep this content from Google.
Even with all that money rolling in from the just-activated price hike, Netflix can’t afford to renew a deal with Starz that brings first-run Disney and Sony movies to the streaming network service. Actually, strike that: they probably can afford it, but Starz just doesn’t want Netflix’s money. Starz just announced it was walking away from the negotiation table despite the $300 million cash pile that Netflix reportedly threw down.
Disney boss Bob Iger has seen the writing on the wall, and in big, bold letters, it says, "Consumers have better things to do than sit around watching movies." If that's the case, where does that leave DVDs? According to Iger, the DVD market is "not has healthy as it was," but DVDs aren't dead yet, either.
Disney, home of the self-described happiest place on Earth, has laid off close to 200 employees as it tries to revamp its interactive media division, The Wall Street Journalreports.
Most of those pink slips ended up in the hands of employees working for Disney's console game operations, which formerly consisted of a staff of 700. Going forward, more layoffs are expected.
"As part of setting a strategic for future success in the digital media space, the Disney Interactive Media Group yesterday began a restructuring process," a Disney spokeswoman said in a statement.
The biggest blow coming from Disney's restructuring efforts includes the shuttering of one of its game studios, Progaganda Games, which worked on the Tron game. Looking ahead, it appears Disney is more interested in pursuing mobile and social games as the company attempts to lift its interactive media group out of the red.
Netflix announced today that they have acquired streaming licenses to a plethora of ABC and Disney owned TV shows. The entire run of Lost will be available, and will popular programs like Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. For the younger crowd, Netflix is also getting access to many Disney channel shows. New episodes of many of these shows will be available on Netflix 15 days after their original airing. That might sound a little lengthy, but nothing compared to the DVD-length waits many series carry.
It is unclear if Netflix is paying anything approaching the $100,000 per episode rumored last week. We would imagine not, as ABC and Disney have been more receptive to streaming deals with the company before. It's good to see a new range of content hitting the service, and we can only hope that more companies get on board with streaming. Check out the press link to see the full list of new additions. Anything there look particularly interesting to you? Well, other than the Hannah Montana -wait, we mean action movies, manly action movies.
Disney and Warner Bros. have chalked out a new anti-piracy strategy. They seem to believe that merely targeting movie pirates is not enough, especially when their abettors enjoy perfect impunity. To this end, the two colossi have forged a partnership to go after Triton Media, a company the duo says assisted nine content piracy sites by advising them on online advertising and referrals.
In a complaint filed with a U.S. District Court in California Tuesday, the movies studios allege that Triton has “owned, operated, provided advertising consulting and referrals for, and/or provided other material assistance to nine websites www.freetv-video-online.info, supernovatube.corn, donogo.com , watch-movies.net, watchmovies-online.tv , watch-movies-links.net , thepiratecity.org, and havenvideo.com.”
The complaint describes the above-named websites as “one-stop-shops” for infringing works. As a large part of the complaint is dedicated to the nine websites and their modus operandi, details on Triton's role are limited. Alleging that the advertising company has been assisting the websites despite being fully aware of the illegal nature of the content they house, the movie studios contend that Triton's conduct amounts to contributory copyright infringement and inducement of copyright infringement. They want the court to award unspecified damages and an injunction barring further infringement.
Market niches become filled after awhile. And when they do anxious manufacturers, hoping to wring a few more dollars out of their product, will look to expand their usability. Gaming consoles, while widely used, are still a niche product--they appeal to people who want to game. Once gamers have had their fill, what’s Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony to do? Teach their consoles a new trick is what. Make them devices that are equally at home with fraggers and media viewers by broadening their ability to stream media from the Internet.
True enough, Xbox, PlayStation, and the Wii already have such capabilities. But their repertoire is limited. What’s needed is a broader selection of media content, so that more people will be inclined to purchase. PlayStation users, for example, can watch the BBC and Weather Channel, while Xbox and Wii users can tap into Netflix. But what about regular TV? There the options are more limited.
Microsoft is hoping to rectify this. It's now in ‘secret’ negotiations with Disney to bring ESPN to the Xbox. Microsoft is taking the view that Xbox Live is more than a gaming community. It’s also a cable channel, with 20 million monthly subscribers, and 1 million daily users. (Numbers comparable to the Cartoon Network and TBS.) Microsoft already has an interactive game show, “1 vs. 100”. And it is looking to make itself a “bigger player” in film and television viewing.
There’s a definite logic to such moves by console makers. There are a lot more of us who watch TV than game. And gaming consoles, already present in many households, are reasonable platforms for streaming media from the Internet. But what happens if this new market focus supplants gaming? Right now console gamers are getting a lot of TLC from console makers. Should they no longer be the industry’s ‘golden child’, will console gamers be orphaned in favor of soap operas and reality TV?