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Junction Point Studios Closes Shop

Mickey MouseThe development studio behind the Disney Epic Mickey franchise has closed its doors today.  As reported by Polygon, Junction's owner, Disney, is has shutdown the studio as part of a paradigm of realigning key momentums or some such business jargon.  The short version is that Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two failed to blow the roof off of the marketplace, so the company has been put out to pasture.  Epic Mickey's key mastermind, Warren Spector, has also moved on from his position with Disney.  Here's some of the story:

"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 representative for the company told Polygon. "These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities. We're extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2."

Since the news was announced, employees from the company have been leaving Junction Point's North Austin headquarters with their personal effects. After remaining relatively quiet after rumors of the company's closure began to circulate yesterday afternoon, a few of those recently laid off have taken to Twitter to seek new employment.  Sources close to the studio tell Polygon most of the staff at Junction Point had been on paid leave since the developer completed work on Epic Mickey 2.

Junction Point's fate seemed obvious following Epic Mickey 2's poor sales, but I think what really led to the closure is the development of the recently announced Skylandersesque Disney Infinity platform and all of the family/casual audience potential that it brings.  With an ongoing sales machine like Infinity waiting in the wings with its dynamically different way of engaging players, big single-player console titles like Epic Mickey just don't fit into Disney's latest video gaming master plan.

It's a shame to see Junction go, but Disney is somewhat legendary for being a difficult corporate master to please and subsidiaries that produce products that don't sell in massive numbers aren't long for this world.  You'd think that a major video game starring Mickey Mouse would be a smash hit, but Mickey isn't such a pop culture force anymore and limiting the original game to Nintendo's Wii at a time when its peak years were clearly behind it (not to mention the game's camera issues).  The multiplatform sequel was too little, too late in a season packed with bigger, more popular properties.  Aside from the loss of 160 jobs at Junction Point, the worst part of the closure is that we'll never get to see Spector's DuckTales game project now.