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SAN FRANCISCO — Disney used to have trouble with mobile.
For a long time, Disney never capitalized on its strongest brands. It’s biggest mobile hit, Where’s My Water?, had nothing to do with any of its intellectual property (until they created a Mickey version later). Chris Heatherly, the senior vice president and general manager of Disney Mobile Games, talked at GamesBeat 2015 about how the company turned its gaming division around.
“Let’s be Disney,” Heatherly said, noting that the company shouldn’t try to emulate others like Zynga. He says its current teams are passionate about making games based on Disney properties, like Marvel and Star Wars.
Heatherly has said that acquiring Marvel and Star Wars has given Disney an opportunity to work on games for midcore and hardcore audiences, while traditional Disney brands, like Mickey and princesses, generally appeal more to children. Disney has success with mobile titles like Star Wars: Commander and Frozen: Free Fall.
Disney also has a mobile hit with a puzzle game called Tsum Tsum, which is popular in Asian markets. It uses a large variety of Disney characters, so the company can use it to measure which are most popular. For example, Heatherly noted that Sadness from the recent Pixar hit Inside Out proved most popular from that movie’s cast in Tsum Tsum.
Heatherly also talked about shutting down Toon Town, a PC massively multiplayer online game with a small, but passionate audience. He said that it was the hardest game to lose. Heatherly also talked about an upcoming game that allows players to explore the restaurants of the Disney parks.
When asked about his favorite Disney game on Facebook, Heatherly picked Frozen Free Fall and Marvel Avengers: Alliance, both free-to-play titles.
Outside of mobile, Heatherly also mentioned — somewhat surprisingly — that Disney has good success with Steam. Frozen Free Fall is also available there, and the LucasArts back-catalog has sold well on that platform.
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