KEY POINTS

  • Disney spoke about its new approach to licensing during the 2020 DICE video game developer summit in Las Vegas
  • Disney executive Sean Shaptow pointed to the success of games like "Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order" and "Marvel's Spider-Man" as examples of the creativity they want to see
  • He said the franchises available for developers to "play" with will include all those acquired in Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox

Disney is taking a more open approach to video game licensing to allow some of the biggest game developers in the world to “reimagine” the many characters and stories in its vault.

The comments came during a presentation Wednesday at the 2020 DICE Summit in Las Vegas. Sean Shaptow, senior VP of games and interactive experiences, spoke about the new approach Disney will be taking and how they want to “empower” developers’ creativity.

“I'm here for one specific reason: to empower you to do really unique things with our [catalog],” Shaptow said. “We want to tap into the power of creatives across the industry.”

Shaptow pointed to the recent success of games like “Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” as examples of the kind of “reimagining” Disney is looking for.

“Fallen Order,” which released in November 2019, proved to be a massive hit for EA and Respawn. It was well received by critics after its release and sold 6 million to 8 million copies, making it the sixth best-selling game of 2019. “Spider-Man” had similar success in 2018 when it became the fastest selling first party title released by Sony, selling 3.3 million copies in three days.

The long term partnership between Disney and Square Enix was referenced as well, specifically the success of the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise. Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are also working on the standalone game, “Marvel’s Avengers,” set for release in September 2020.

Shaptow continued, pointing to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox as providing even more properties for developers to experiment with. He specifically cited franchises like “Avatar,” “Alien,” “Die Hard” and “The Simpsons” as ripe grounds for reimagining.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Pictured: EA and Respawn Entertainment reveal the "Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order: video game during Star Wars Celebration at McCormick Place Convention Center on April 11, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: FilmMagic/Daniel Boczarski