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Disney's Stephen Wadsworth

The games president talks strategy, platforms, online safety and the future

This year's DICE Summit keynote was delivered by Stephen Wadsworth, president of the Disney Interactive Media Group - the man that oversees both online ventures such as Club Penguin and other virtual worlds, and the interactive entertainment segment which produces videogames.

Shortly before he stood up to speak, we spent some time with him to find out more about how the company will organise its strategy with respect to different markets and platforms, what the company does to ensure online safety for kids, the importance of the Interactive Group to the rest of Disney, and how much of a leader in the games space the organisation could become in the future.

GamesIndustry.biz Disney recently announced a slight shift in strategy following the company's recent financial results - can you just explain a bit more how that will manifest itself?
Stephen Wadsworth

What we're trying to do is match the demographic of the product or experience with the right platform. For instance, something like Pirates of the Caribbean - that's a broad demographic, and we're going to go broad with the game we're producing, and we'll be on every platform.

With something like Alice in Wonderland, the movie comes out here pretty soon, and we've got DS and Wii titles tied to that - because the demo is pretty focused, it's not a big game title anyway and we're not going to reach an enthusiast market with it.

So we look at it by franchise and property, and what we think we can do with the game experience or the title.

Even something like Toy Story 3 - that's one where we think we've got a really great product. The audience will appeal to a very broad mass market audience, therefore we're going to make our product available on all platforms, including Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

And we'll see, but we think that the game we're creating is compelling enough that it needs to be on all those platforms. If history is any guide, we think it's going to do very, very well across all platforms.

GamesIndustry.biz How do you look at the market in terms of how it splits out into platforms? Clearly Wii and DS targets and younger or family mix, but how do you feel that's changing? Microsoft and Sony are working hard to try and broaden the appeal of their platforms, for sure.
Stephen Wadsworth

Certainly we'd love to see that work out well, because we have a broader audience. What Nintendo has done with the Wii, and the success for kids on the DS, has been great for us. We have success on PS3 and Xbox - but it's more skewed to those products that have a broader enthusiast core game appeal as well.

If Microsoft and Sony are successful, which I'd love them to be, I think we're going to see that much more broadening of the audience for games. What's amazing, and what's happening, is that we're seeing game devices of all types in the hands of people who historically never would have been a game customer.

That's great for us, because of our family and kid appeal - but I think it's only good the industry, to broaden that market.

The other thing that you see happening with things like the PS3 and Xbox - and the PS3 in particular - is that they're really positioning it as a multi-use platform. It's a really high-end games platform, it's a way to access the internet now for things like Netflix and the rest of it, it's a great Blu-ray player - and the price point now is pretty compelling for all of those things.

So I think we'll see more proliferation of those, and the results will be good for us. It'll broaden the market, and that's what we'd like to see.

GamesIndustry.biz And a broader audience will also appreciate a longer hardware cycle as well.
Stephen Wadsworth

That's right.

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