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Disney Online: Reorg Increases Focus

disney staffWith the gaming industry setting records at retail, content creators are increasingly looking to bring development activity in house instead of having to share the revenue pie with  third party developers.  To that end, it’s been previously reported that video game tie-ins for the next installment of Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story franchise will be developed inside Disney instead of with previous partner THQ.  Now, to keep on top of similar online and casual gaming initiatives, and streamline internal management, Disney has announced they will create a new division within the Disney Online Internet Group. 

The new organization will be called Disney Online Studios.   While not exciting news to those uninvolved, the reorganization hints at Disney’s recognition of the increasing value of their online entertainment offerings and shows a concerted plan to accelerate development of new offerings.(Disney made related moves to strengthen its M&A focus in late November. )

Organizationally, Steve Parkis will head the group and report to Paul Yanover, the managing director of Disney Online.  The development teams behind Disney.Com Extreme Digital (XD) and Disney’s Online Virtual Reality Studio will fall under the umbrella too.

The staffing shift is a natural evolution given Disney’s position as the top ranked website for kids.  The site reaches upwards of 27million monthly visitors.  And as Yanover noted in a statement, “far and away the top reason guests come to our site is for games and other interactive online entertainment.”

The new group will be responsible for creating virtual worlds, casual games and online communities built around Disney content.  Virtual world offerings built around Disney faeries and Pixar’s Cars will be among their first focal points.

Popular kids virtual world Club Penguin, which Disney acquired in 2007, will not be part of the group.  It will continue to be led by co-founder Lane Merrifield who reports directly to Steve Wadsworth, the president of the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG).


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