Warren Spector: "Consoles Are Going to be Up Against Some Stiff Competition" in the Home Entertainment Space
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Proud to have brought Oswald into the fold
Warren Spector is a well known name in the games industry, with his legacy of titles such as the original Deus Ex assuring his place as development royalty. In more recent years he founded the studio Junction Point, which was acquired by Disney (after an initial offer was turned down) and the team went on to produce Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. While the first title surprised some with a strong performance as a Wii exclusive, the multi-platform sequel struggled both critically and commercially. The disappointment and poor sales sealed Junction Point's fate, with Disney Interactive shutting the studio down.
Spector has been relatively quiet since, but in an extensive interview with Gamesindustry.biz the game designer spoke about his positive experiences with Disney — and also some of the downsides — and reflected on the parts of his work with the company that pleased him the most.
The most satisfying thing? Let me think for a minute. There were a lot of satisfying… more than satisfying… things. I guess I'd say that number one was getting to work with Mickey Mouse. I went into the whole thing thinking that opportunities to do cool things with a character as well-known and beloved as Mickey come along, well, never. Doing something a little different with the little guy was an amazing experience. And kind of changing the way some people though about him - reminding them (and him) how adventurous and heroic he could be was awesome.
I also have to say, the creative people at Disney are everything you hope they'd be - there's lots of talent there and it was exciting to feel like part of something bigger than yourself… bigger than 'just' a game company.
Oh, and I can't forget bringing Oswald back - that was us, Junction Point, and Disney Interactive. I wanted - still want - that guy to be the symbol of Disney games, the way Mickey is the symbol of the company. No one else had done anything with him, it was all Interactive. I thought we should have gotten more credit than we did. I know everyone at Junction Point was proud to have played a part in his return to the Disney family and to the world.
The biggest regret? Can I say 'that it's over?' I loved being able to say 'I work for Disney' and I can't say that anymore. I left a lot of friends there, and not just at Interactive. Also, I guess I'd have to say I went into the Disney experience as a game guy (obviously) but with a couple of 'checklist of life' things I still hadn't done and with the idea that Disney would be the perfect place to do them. I really want to produce a movie someday and make some cartoons… and I've always wanted to work on a theme park attraction. Yeah…I thought I could do all that at Disney. I mean, where better, right? But that didn't happen. Yeah, I regret that. But maybe I'll get to do that somewhere else. I'm kind of between gigs right now, so if anyone wants a no-experience movie producer or theme park designer, tell 'em to get in touch.
Spector was also quizzed on a number of topics, including the challenges facing Wii U, PS4 and the next Xbox, and he admitted that he sees big hurdles ahead for the fixed hardware generation. When asked whether the coming generation of systems will match the success of Wii/PS3/360, he wasn't keen on giving a prediction.
Prediction is a fool's game, so I'll give you a qualified 'maybe.' It seems likely that success will come less than usual in the pure gaming space and more in the home entertainment space. And there, the consoles are going to be up against some stiff competition. But it seems likely that the multi-purposeness (is that a word?) of the consoles will be enough of a differentiating feature to keep consoles going for a while, at least.
The biggest risk associated with consoles, at least to me, is that they're frozen, hardware-wise, while mobile platforms - phones and tablets - will continue to get more and more powerful. I mean, where do you think the iPad or Kindle Fire or Surface or whatever will be in 3 years? 5 years? It's crazy to think about. And the consoles will still be right where they were in 2013 or whenever they come to market. That'd be a little scary to me if I were a console manufacturer.
We certainly recommend reading the full interview at the link below, but what do you think of Spector's comments on the Epic Mickey games bringing Mickey and Oswald back, and his thoughts on challenges for home consoles such as Wii U? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.