Disney Interactive Studios announced today it has agreed to acquire Wideload Games Inc., a Chicago-based producer and developer of original interactive entertainment. As part of the agreement, industry veteran and creative visionary Alexander Seropian, Wideload Games founder and CEO, will join Disney Interactive Studios in the newly created role of vice president of creative, leading the company’s global creative efforts. Seropian, who is relocating to Glendale, Calif., is renowned as the founder of Bungie Software and was among the creators of the highly successful Halo® series – one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Seropian will report directly to Global Product Development Senior Vice President Jean-Marcel Nicolai, and be tasked with overseeing creative development across Disney Interactive Studios’ portfolio of video games.
Wideload Games is among the premier small creative game development studios in the world. Wideload Games will be a great fit for our portfolio of internal studios, and Alex joining the global product development team provides the entire Disney game portfolio with a strong creative influence. Alex has built his reputation around the power of original thinking. In leading the studio that created Halo, he helped turn great storytelling, exceptional design and polished gameplay into the ‘killer app’ for Xbox. Alex’s leadership of our creative community will enhance our ability to be a magnet for the best talent in the industry and enable the company to take an even more significant role in developing industry leading products.
Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Studios
Seropian began his career in 1991 as founder and CEO of Bungie Software, which created the Marathon and Myth computer game series. Seven years later, Bungie Software made the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies. In 2000, Seropian negotiated the acquisition of Bungie Software by Microsoft Corp., and then oversaw the development, production and delivery of the critically acclaimed and highly successful game, Halo, the flagship title for the 2001 launch of the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft. In 2003, Seropian founded Wideload Games, which has released the games: Stubbs the Zombie™ in Rebel Without a Pulse™, Hail to the Chimp™,Texas Cheat ’Em™ and Cyclomite.
Joining Disney is an ideal next step, both for our studio and me. At Wideload, we’ve conscientiously built a forward-looking approach to game development that borrows many techniques from the film industry. Now, Wideload will be a part of one of the largest, most respected entertainment companies in the world. I’m looking forward to Wideload’s continued success as a part of Disney and I’m eager to bring all my experience to the creative community at Disney Interactive Studios.
Alexander Seropian, Wideload Games founder and CEO
Wideload Games president Tom Kang will continue to lead the studio as studio director. As part of Disney Interactive Studios’ network of global internal development teams, Wideload Games will focus on creating new intellectual properties for Disney that target a broad audience. The studio, which will remain in its current Chicago location, is developing an unannounced original family console game scheduled for release in 2010 from Disney Interactive Studios.
Wideload’s focus will continue to be developing original video game properties using an innovative development approach that requires developing prototypes with small core creative teams and ramping up for product development with globally outsourced talent. To complement its console team and expand its portfolio of original intellectual properties, Wideload Games established Wideload Shorts in 2007 for the emerging online and handheld platforms. As part of Disney Interactive Studios, Wideload Shorts will continue to create original properties for casual, downloadable and mobile games.
Founded in 2003, Wideload Games’ core team of 25 full-time employees is comprised of many industry veterans and executives, including former Bungie Software personnel. In 2006, Tom Kang joined Wideload Games as president. Kang previously was president and CEO of CSMG Inc., one of the fastest growing sports management firms in the United States, which was acquired by Interpublic Group and Creative Artists Agency.
Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.
Wrapping it up
As I mentioned in my previous post on Disney’s acquisition of Marvel comics, a successful video game company should be in Disney’s planning to capture the tween/teen boy market. This current acquisition validates that position and sets the company up on more solid footing to capture a share of that marketplace.