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Disney video games unit lays off about 50 workers

January 29, 2013|By Ben Fritz
  • About 50 staffers lost their jobs in Walt Disney Co.'s video game group, headed by executive John Pleasants.
About 50 staffers lost their jobs in Walt Disney Co.'s video game group,… (Al Seib )

Walt Disney Co.'s video game division laid off about 50 staffers Tuesday from several locations on the same day that it closed the Austin, Texas, studio that produced its "Epic Mickey" titles.

The layoffs were separate from the people who lost their jobs at Austin-based Junction Point, according to a knowledgeable person not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Disney's Interactive Media unit, which also includes online content, has shed jobs recently as it attempts to meet Chief Executive Robert Iger's publicly stated goal of achieving profitability in its current fiscal year.

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The games group has significantly pulled back its ambitions in order to focus on the upcoming "Infinity" project for consoles, along with mobile and social titles.

In an email sent to staffers Tuesday obtained by The Times, Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants commented on the closing of Junction Point but didn't specifically mention the other layoffs:

"Our division operates in a rapidly evolving industry and as a result we must sometimes make difficult decisions to ensure we’re meeting market demands. Unfortunately, today this meant announcing changes within Disney Interactive Games, including the closure of Junction Point Studios in Austin.

"These decisions are never easy, or taken without serious thought and consideration, but they are essential in order for Disney Interactive to remain competitive and win.

"I want to thank Warren Spector and the team at Junction Point for their tremendous passion, creativity and dedication in building the Epic Mickey games franchise. They have made an indelible mark on Disney Interactive and we truly appreciate their contribution to the ever-growing vault of Disney [intellectual property]. A sincere thank you goes to all of our employees for their continued hard work and commitment."

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