Junction Point closed, Spector leaving Disney

Disney shutters Epic Mickey studio, says it is "extremely grateful" to team for creative contributions; Warren Spector leaving Disney altogether.

Junction Point Studios is no more. Disney Interactive provided a statement to Joystiq today, noting that it decided to close the Austin, Texas-based Epic Mickey studio due to organizational changes.

"It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization, which include the closure of Junction Point Studios," a Disney representative said.

"We're extremely grateful to [Junction Point founder Warren Spector] and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2."

Separately, a Disney representative has confirmed with Polygon that Spector has left Disney altogether.

It is not clear what additional effect, if any, Disney's organizational shift will have on its Games division. The company recently announced Disney Infinity, a new "toys to life" game that is currently in development at Avalanche Software for release this June.

Potential trouble at Junction Point came to light this week, when sources said staff had been on leave for more than a month. It is not clear how many were employed at the time at the company.

Junction Point shipped Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two in November. The game was not a critical or commercial success for Disney, recording mediocre review scores and reportedly selling 270,000 copies in the United States by the end of 2012.

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Discussion

76 comments
docwoo
docwoo

I feel bad that the studio closed and people lost their jobs, but I can't say I'm all that surprised.  Epic Mickey 2 really is an atrocious game.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how someone like Warren Spector could produce a game like Thief: Deadly Shadows (one of my all-time favorite games) and then turn around and produce a steaming pile like Epic Mickey 1 & 2?! 

jark888
jark888

Compared playing Mario Galaxy and Epic Mickey, you'll find the later one is kinda off. I felt that I couldn't gain as much control over Mickey Mouse. After all, the game is not as fun as it may seem in my opinion.

tgwolf
tgwolf

...So 'grateful' that it has shut them down and cut off the contributions at the source...

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

Am I the only one who thinks that they REALLY should have gone with Donald instead? He's no Kratos (thank god!), but his explosive temperament would've been much more interesting than the bland, goody-two-shoes Mickey. 

I wish Spector the best for his future. After all, he did made some of the best memorable games of my childhood.

Erics84
Erics84

I feel bad for Spector, but this is what he gets for listening to the Disney and Spector fanboys. From reading Spector's interviews, he seemed to be convinced that Epic Mickey was a great game from listening the fanboys' opinions, who acted like it was an amazing game and the critics were wrong. If Spector hadn't let the fanboys (and his ego) cloud his judgement, he probably would have put some effort into fixing EM1's issues when making EM2, which in turn would have sold better and wouldn't have prompted Disney to close JP. And the saddest thing is that he's probably still convinced that Epic Mickey is a underrated and brilliant series.

GymFox
GymFox

Huge ego+ shit game= studio closure.... No surprises there 

tightwad34
tightwad34

When you do absolutely nothing to improve a game that was overwhelmingly negatively recieved, you should pay some sort of consequence. I hate to see people lose their jobs, but if you can't learn from your mistakes you probably should experience a harsh reality check.

darktruth007
darktruth007

Hmm I was about to have an opinion on this - then I remembered I had to go get laid. As for my opinion however my opinion is _____

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

That's too bad. This is the second company Spector's been apart of that's had like, one or two games and shuttered? Spector should maybe think about returning to Thief and Deus Ex.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Was really looking forward to these Epic Mickey games but they both totally disappointed.  Oh what could have been!!!

johnnybowman
johnnybowman

The cover art for the first game made it seem like it would be darker and cool.

deviant74
deviant74

I hope Spector starts up a new company called "Sex and Violence," and Kickstarts a game he is not proud of.  

Atombomb1981
Atombomb1981

Both titles were mediocre at best, good ideas, not so well implemented. They should have stopped after creating the 1st one and focus on something else. It's sad when talented people like Spector get in situations like this.

brok
brok

I wonder if Spector ever gazed enviously at the development of Human Revolution, only to look back at his own desk covered in lousy models and sketches of long defunct Disney cartoon characters and wonder where it all went so wrong...

Psylumin
Psylumin

Very sad to hear it.

Still, I hope this won't discourage Warren from continuing his career in Game Design. I hope he won't lose his passion for making games because of this incident.

I must admit, the most fun I've had with the original Epic Mickey was watching the Behind the Scenes footage and interviews with Warren Spector.

ToTs_00
ToTs_00

With 2 AAA games with lukewarm reception and sales it's not really surprise they went under.

Madmangamer364
Madmangamer364

This is sad news to hear, but I'm not surprised. To me, this is a byproduct of this gen in terms of not only financial challenges, but the mentality that most of the industry has adapted. What I mean by that is that there's such a pressure to create AAA-quality franchises nowadays, I think it hurts a game like Epic Mickey. Heck, the fact that Junction Point decided to use the buzzword "Epic" for a Mickey Mouse game says plenty about the direction this game was developed in, and even with Spector's involvement, it became something too important for its own good.

I suspect that while this game wouldn't have been as open-world in prior gens, it possibly could have become a better game with a closer-to-home approach for just making a fun Mickey Mouse platformer. What's strange is that this series debuted on the Wii, a system designed to provide the simpler, yet creative gameplay experiences this game could have been. No doubt that there was some reason for the decisions that Disney and Junction Point made for this game; I just think those decisions were influenced by the negative nature of game development in this day and age.

DrKill09
DrKill09

Those games were terrible anyway.

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

A better game would have sold.  People want to buy this game, this franchise, I think.  But with many, MANY other solid offerings, review scores matter.  Sad but true.

I wish the fallen the best. Hope they're back on their feet soon.

SaudiFury
SaudiFury

i loved the concept of Epic Mickey. I can say i've played both games, and while i like actually listening to the characters talk in Epic Mickey 2, almost everything about the first game was better, with the exception of the camera. 

Just felt like EM2 was a let down really. 

I do wish the people at Junction Point the best of luck and success in their careers.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Yeah, I'm getting ready to be THAT guy.......


Wonder how the sales would have been had EM2 stayed on Nintendo consoles.....

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

He's a nice guy, but he only made ONE truly great game (Deus Ex). And even with that I'm beginning to question his involvement with the project. =(

ItsEvolution
ItsEvolution

I knew there was trouble when Epic Mickey 2 got cut to $39.99 before it had been out even two months.   The demo was fun-ish, but not enough to get me to buy it.

chemergency7712
chemergency7712

"They were a good dev, what a rotten way to die."

                                                                                 -JC Denton

nigelholden
nigelholden

it makes one wonder; if the studio was allowed to go ahead with the original mood of Epic Mickey, would the series as a whole garnered a larger audience?  I guess we won't know.  Either way, I hope the employees find a job soon.  

Hurvl
Hurvl

"Disney shutters Epic Mickey studio, says it is "extremely grateful" to team for creative contributions" Disney would be even more grateful if the studio made some economic contributions, but the Epic Mickey games weren't big sellers (although interesting concepts). Warren Spector won't have to worry about getting a new job, though I hope the other devs also find new jobs.

burgo81
burgo81

sorry to the guys that got the boot, but warren shipped out a product that was flawed in the first game and did a half assed job in the sequel and i can understand why disney sent him packing

zenogandia
zenogandia

My condolences to those who lost their jobs. Epic mickey 2 destroyed the studio, so it's not surprise that Disney closed it. Just goes to show you how one failed product can ruin a studio. 

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Disney should have asked Warren Spector to do a Starwars game.

Erics84
Erics84

@NeoIostars  

The sad thing is that Epic Mickey was supposed to give Mickey a personality and bring back his mischievous portrayal.

blackfire
blackfire

@GymFox exactly Spector is overrated, he acts like he's gods gift to gaming.

AlexFili
AlexFili

@tightwad34 mistakes are much more costly now. In the old days companies could just spring back and make a great game the next time... but in this current climate, one wrong move could derail the franchise and end the company.

00J
00J

@mrboone01 Haha, it's true. He should follow Peter Molynuex's re-birth, after playing around with Fable he finally gave up and went back to one of the first games he did. 

00J
00J

@Atombomb1981 Get in situations? He created the situation, thinking he had some sort of odd revelation that the world was tired of violent games... 


Guess he got a rude awakening...

00J
00J

@brok lol... he's gonna have to get drunk wake up the next day and release a statement that he's planning Deux Maxima...

reyezumeta_Edu
reyezumeta_Edu

@Madmangamer364 I agree with most of what you said. The business of gaming by nature is becoming ruthless. The simple reality of everything is that we (consumers) and them (developers) are not really meeting eye to eye. Most consumers (like myself), would not spend more than 120 a month in games. That's only two NEW games (which are the ones that make a profit for the publisher/developer). So with so many releases of games trying to take a market cut, it's difficult for a consumer to decide what to spend their money on. When Epic Mickey 2 came out, we had MANY other AAA tittles available within weeks (prior or after), so it really was an easy decision to ignore EM2. However, if they sat down and determined a better target price for their games (not just Disney), according to their target demographics, they might see better results in sales. In other words, don't sell Epic Mickey 2 for 60 dollars, the same price on tittles like Call of Duty or Mass Effect, that's just asking a potential consumer base to ignore your game. Target Epic Mickey 2 at 39.99, then you will start to see people migrate to the game. Not a lot of games are worth the 60 dollar tag on them. Epic Mickey 2 is one of them, but with a more reasonable price, then is really not a bad investment. 


My last point, is that Epic Mickey 1 & 2 are a products of a man who is stuck in the past. Warren Spector is a man who has no form of technical or artistic education in gaming. He got into gaming out of a coincidence, and ended up making a couple excellent games when gaming just made it's jump to 3D polygons. Times have changed, and Spector was missing in action for a while. He often mentioned in his Epic Mickey interview, that he almost never plays video games in his free time... Well Mr. Spector, that is quite clear by what we can see in Epic Mickey. You made a potentially great game, that fits perfectly into a past generation console, and not a current one. Is important for Game Designers to still play video games on their free time. That's because is essential for a game designer to compare his work to others, and see how other are solving design issues or are addressing new concepts of gameplay. Just compare Warren Spector to Ken Levine, who both work on System Shock 2 (I believe). Spector does not like playing video games on his free time, therefore he creates a mediocre product. Ken Levine plays A LOT of video games on his free time (he is constantly playing the latest tittles from any developer), and the man created Bioshock and now Bioshcok Infinite. 

Don't get me wrong, is sad to see a company shut down, but I'm honestly not surprised about it. Maybe Spector will learn how to get back in the game soon... 

Dark_Metamorphosis
Dark_Metamorphosis

@PixelAddict Yep agreed. I really liked how these Mickey games looked and would have loved for them to be better so I could justify buying them.

chuckles471
chuckles471

@FallenOneX 

Or maybe it was a not a good game and only the disney diehards would buy the sequal.  And if people didn't buy just because it wasn't exclusive, then the nintendo fanbois have taken it too far and deserve no 3rd party games.

I watch the loading bar(spill.com) for a laugh.  They had someone on who worked on it and even he was ripping on it. 

Welverin
Welverin

@Ripper_TV That's not remotely true, look up the games he's worked on.


p.s. The game industry was around before the year 2000.

tightwad34
tightwad34

@00J @mrboone01 He does seem to be headed that way. Oh, wait Spector isn't as arrrogant or egotistical as PM. At least it seems that way to me. Everytime I see Peter speak I want to punch the screen. I haven't seem enough of Spector to speak that much about him.

00J
00J

@reyezumeta_Edu @Madmangamer364 Why do you guys always feel remorse when a company shuts down? Sad to see a company shut down? LOL

They got paid for the work they did. The next thing they are going to do is send a resume to another game company, you can throw a game company together over night as long as you have money. All you need is an office space and some computers [in simple terms].

You'd be surprised what most game companies look like on the inside, it's more like a college dorm... 



Madmangamer364
Madmangamer364

@chuckles471 @FallenOneX  

Epic Mickey 2 wouldn't be the first multi-platform game to sell bad when the original game was a Nintendo-exclusive title. De Blob 2 suffered the same fate, and even Viewtiful Joe 2 comes to mind as a game that migrated to another system, yet failed to sell. Say what you will, but I don't think there's a doubt that this happens, especially on Nintendo systems.

Still, to respond to FallenOneX's curiosity, I think Epic Mickey's 2 failures are actually because of the first game. The original EM was a game that received so much hype, and I think its success was more because of that hype than the quality of the game itself. After it received such mixed reactions, it was really only academic for EM2 to take a step back, and the fact that the game didn't fix the problems of its predecessor certainly didn't help its cause either. Even so, I think there is some truth to what you're saying, especially when considering the contrasting elements of the Wii and the PS3/Xbox 360 in this gen.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

@Welverin Some of us older gamers may know what you mean, but before 2000, you have to admit (besides Theif) he worked on a lot of Wing Commander and Ultima games. Even I stopped playing those around 95. That's also around the time that any "off the shelf PC" wasn't capable of playing every PC game anymore.

Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

@zenogandia@Yulaw2000 Yeah, you  could be right, but it may have been interesting to see the maker of Deus Ex make a Starwars RPG.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@Yulaw2000 "OMG JC! A bomb!" "The ability to make bombs (and reciting old memes) is insignificant next to the power of the Force".