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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 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.


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User Comments (21)



XCWarrior said:

" 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."

This sounds like it would be an issue, but it's not. Real gamers want buttons - these things don't have them. And let's face it, the tablets get upgraded very minorly year to year. They convince the public to upgrade for another $200-$600 and all they did was extended the battery life 30 minutes or add another 32 gigs of ram.

I want a tablet, but they are still far weaker than my laptop. And I want it for coaching purposes, not to play games on. That might be a 5th function of it.



Mahemoth said:

"...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? "

At Nintendo! Miyamoto wants a Nintendo land themepark, you can make an attraction! xD lol



Ristar42 said:

I hope console gaming sticks around, maybe it will go back to being more specifically for 'gamers', though I suppose that would be a much smaller market and I wonder if it would actually support an industry. There is so much saturation these days, I sometimes miss the simple days of 90s gaming!
Having said that, I still have all my old consoles, and there is a great interactive history for people to investigate in retro gaming, if they're so inclined.



BakaKnight said:

Honestly I'm quite surprised that Disney let him go.
Not sure how things works, but couldn't they keep the guy and some of his co-workers after shutting down junction point?

Anyway I'm always glad when I hear about a big company working with talent and passion. Nowadays too many companies gives money such a priority that all the "heart" stuffs get completly ignored; I was afraid in the last years that Disney was slowly turning heartless too, but, luckily, it seems I was wrong... Ack! If it's someone who got fired saying so then it can only be true!



GiftedGimp said:

Future of all consoles is going to hardover the next few years.
Tablets are getting more powerfull, Android consoles are just around the corner too.
Already there are loads of games that let you attach a controller to your tablet for extra control, a lot of tablets have hdmi out already and both controller support and hdmi out will become the norm as tablets are more designed towards competing within the gamers space, aswell as being A portable Do everything else device.



nik1470 said:

I've got a lit of time and respect for both Warren Spector and the Epic Mikey titles. It's hard to imagian my life without a console but then i am a bit old school like that.



rjejr said:

@XCWarrior To pick up where you left off - "or whatever will be in 3 years? 5 years?". Somebody tell Spector that home consoles aren't "frozen in time", they also upgrade every 5 years, or does he think people are still playing on the NES and Atari 2600? Maybe that's why Epic Mickey 2 sucked, the guy couldn't keep up with advancements in home console hardware?

I do agree with him though, there may never be another 100 million home console seller, Sony and Nintendo and MS will need to figure out how to make 50 million economically feasible. On the bright side for video game consumers. if there are 3 different selling 50 million consoles that are similar enough that most games can go multi-plat then companies may still make games for them.



Jaz007 said:

iPhone games will never have as much effort put into them as console games. They will never scratch the iChat or gamers like console games will. Another thing too. How many people actually have an iPad 4. I was surprised when I heard it existed. The user base for the latest iPad will never be big enough for big budget games. People will also never pay +$10 for an iPad game. Those games will never be big enough to satisfy a real gamer. Nobody will ever take full advantage of the power either because it won't get a return to make a console sized or quality game. Any attachments will never be popular enough to justify a game that relies on buttons so that puts consoles above too.



MAB said:

Imagine playing Monster Hunter on the iPad... It would be a major suckfest



k8sMum said:


if there is one thing disney can never be accused of, it's putting heart before money. they will gild the lily so it looks like it, but money is their prime motivator. not saying it's right or wrong, it is just the way it is.



Dpullam said:

Unfortunately, I have to agree with him. There are more powerful products being released each day than there ever was before so people don't feel the need to spend money on game consoles when they could just get a tablet or smartphone instead. I hope that consoles will continue to thrive for many more years to come but only time will tell if they will keep a place in people's homes without being replaced by new products.



AVahne said:

Just one counter-point: bluetooth gamepads. Especially the many gamepads coming out soon that are universal with Android/iOS/PC/etc. AND are capable of holding your phone or comes with a stand for your tablet. And if Ouya and/or Project Shield become successful enough, perhaps more devs will add gamepad support in addition to touchscreen controls for more games.



AVahne said:

Please realize that he doesn't mean a 5 year period between tablet upgrades. He merely meant that he wants us to see how much they upgrade IN THE SPAN of 3 or 5 years. Every year, the mobile processors that come out make HUGE jumps over their predecessors. Compare Tegra 4 to Tegra 3. Or Snapdragon 800 to Snapdragon S4 Pro. Or just compare the new games once they come out this year and next.



Gameday said:

Man i felt sad after reading this article. Never played any of their newer disney games. You ever feel like if you just played maybe that would have affected the outcome of everything lol strange but i feel that way with tv shows as well.

You always take things for granted and then basically when they arent there anymore who's to blame I'll still get around to the mickey games just wasnt on my list and i wasnt expecting any of this to be honest. Even with the reviews about controls and such. Its a sad day , i wish you well Mr Spector Sir !



QuickSilver88 said:

Epic Mickey is really cool and one of the best non-Nintendo Wii games. Too bad the sequel didn't live up. The first one had great play mechanics and a somewhat dark theme for a Mickey game. He is a quality guy so surely will land somewhere else. I own both Iphone and Ipad2 and other than MTG TC game I have not been able to get excited about much. Suffice to say the new consoles will have considerably more power than anything portable will have for many years and maybe ever. Power is the issue in that you are not going to drive CPUs and GPUs like consoles or computers have on batteries....just not possible something that plugs in will always have more oomph than something that runs on batteries.

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