Warren Spector’s Junction Point Closes

By Adam Smith on January 29th, 2013 at 5:10 pm.

the parting of the ways

Sad news travels fast and although it’s taken a while for Disney to confirm, we’d already heard convincing rumours suggesting that Epic Mickey developers Junction Point had closed earlier today. Polygon have now received a statement from the House of Mouse, which reads in part: “These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities.” No mention of the poor sales and reception of Epic Mickey 2, which was initially due on PC, then delayed, and now perhaps cancelled. The staff numbered 160 early last year and hopefully those who find themselves without work today will find new projects and/or studios soon.

Edit: Eurogamer have confirmation that Spector will not be staying with Disney.

Much of the focus will fall on the future of Warren Spector. Where now for the man who has been party to the design of some of the most influential games of the nineties? We hope to find out more as soon as possible, but in the meantime our thoughts are with everyone affected.

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64 Comments »

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  1. alice says:

    What a shame.

    • Olivaw says:

      What a shame.

    • jussipe says:

      UNATCO?

    • Muzman says:

      Was Epic Mickey A BOMB? I can’t remember.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I don’t think it lived up to the hype. A lot of the concept art seemed a lot darker (i.e. collapsing mechanical goofy and friends, angry Oswald, etc) than the game that turned up (Mickey mouse game with magical paint-spraying brush adventure).

        But the main criticism seemed to be the controls/camera.

        • Skabooga says:

          So, you’re saying it’s kinda like pushing the button for orange soda but the machine giving you lemon-lime?

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          Jackablade says:

          I suspect he’s being memetic, but for what it’s worth Wikipedia says that Epic Mickey 1 sold around 2 million units. Decent but not spectacular sales.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            Oh my god, I didn’t even see that.

            This is my punishment.

          • jitenakansa says:

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      • thelongshot says:

        I played it. While it wasn’t a bad game, it didn’t live up to the hype. While it was dark, it wasn’t THAT dark, and the paint/thinner mechanic wasn’t as interesting as it was on paper. Yes, there were occasional camera issues, but that’s true of a lot of games. I was glad he got a second shot at it, but expectations were low and I don’t think he even met those.

  2. Ricc says:

    Good luck to those, who lost their job today. Disney are a fickle bunch. Recurring management changes certainly didn’t help in finding a direction for their games business.

    How about Warren Specter at Irrational or Arkane? Both are the beginning / end of a project.

    • Xerian says:

      I would pay to have him join either. The man can do brilliant things, and I would love to see his influence on both Bioshock and Dishonored.

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        Jackablade says:

        I think he could do a lot of good at Arkane. Dishonoured is a very good game, but there are lots of little bits and pieces that could be tweaked and tightened to make it even better.

        Irrational kinda do their own thing – less immersive sim and more story heavy action game. If Spector could assert some kind of influence to pull whatever the next game in the series into a more Looking Glass flavoured title, well that’d be awesome, but I can’t imagine Levine and co actually going for that.

        • Josh W says:

          I actually wouldn’t want him to join arkane; the main two head developers are actually a really good pair, working well on making new games, and I’d rather see him establish a different game company elsewhere, (and team up with some dwarf fortress-esque procedural genius, who can encourage him to be more ambitious with embodying his ideas for choice and consequence in chaotic game logic rather than discrete branching).

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      Revisor says:

      Or CD Projekt Red. What with the Cyberpunk 2077 going on…

  3. Tuor says:

    Shame what a…

    Dammit, I don’t even understand this meme. :P

  4. Jockie says:

    The selfish part of me is hoping this will mean that Warren Spector goes back to making ‘proper’ games. The rest of me is filled with sympathy for those who lost their jobs, good luck!

    • derella says:

      It sucks that there are going to be more unemployed folks, but Warren Spector being on the market again is at least a silver lining.

    • Text_Fish says:

      Me too.

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      Morlock says:

      The Spector – Disney – Lucasfilm chain of association made me dream of a Star Wars Deus Ex. Oh well.

      • Poliphilo says:

        Please tell me you are joking. Pumping out Star Wars games would’ve given Spector no freedom/joy at all. Disney paid $4 billion for the SW franchise, and you think they would want to make an immersive sim out of SW after that? It’s infinitely more likely he would’ve been producing Star Wars Racer 2-5, Lego Star Wars Kinect Adventures 1-4, or even Disney Infinity: Star Wars, and so on and so forth, until everyone involved were either miserable or just quit. While that may have meant some employment for Junction Point people, I imagine it’s so far removed from the stuff JP Studios set out to do they might as well jump ship.

        Best of luck to everyone involved, and the same goes for THQ’s people!

  5. Isometric says:

    Sad news yet from death there is rebirth. I hope this isn’t it for Specter.

  6. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    I wonder if Spector will have any involvement in infinity?

    • Poliphilo says:

      No. I do wonder if that has something to do with Spector leaving and JPS closing. Can you imagine some Disney exec putting JPS on something as horrible as Disney: Infinity? Something which basically amounts to an addictive MMO designed for children to make parents bleed money through their eyesockets and turn them into WoW-addicts before even reaching puberty. I very much doubt even Disney would be so stupid, but then something happened. I somehow doubt it’s that (or that dramatic) though.

  7. mehteh says:

    Oh the joys of a partnership with today’s console focus publishers. Dumbed down games, bankruptcy, or being shut down

    • anduin1 says:

      Don’t really feel bad or sympathy here. Console only and poor sales? Can’t blame piracy this time for all the mistakes they made.

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    Bummer. I haven’t finished EM2 yet (have it for Wii) but it seems like it improved on the original in most ways, and the original was a really good game. It kinda makes me sad that a good game based on the only really good era of cel animation didn’t do much better than Disney shovelware.

    I would love to see him end up at WB and making some games based on the Avery/Clampett classics, but there’s obviously no way that would happen.

  9. Bhazor says:

    “These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities.”

    So anyone willing to bet on which floundering “future of videogames” bandwagon they’ll be jumping on?
    F2P MMO? Motion Gaming? Streaming? A MOBA? A facebook game?

    Wish they’d focus on the future that consists of making good games.

    • Dr. Shenanigans says:

      Mobile, social, rinse and repeat.

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      Jackablade says:

      Games that involve buying a bunch of plastic toys, if Infinity is anything to go by. Must admit that game does sort of look like it might be mildly amusing to mess about with for a while.

  10. int says:

    Warren’s specter will find another company to haunt.

    • Bhazor says:

      Hmmm, yeah there’s not a ghost of chance he’s departed the industry for good.

      • The Magic says:

        No doubt this closure is in part to do with shade-y dealings

      • LionsPhil says:

        I’d lich to think that, but even if the studio he works with closing doesn’t spook him any more, the number of times it’s happened must put a dhampir on his enthusiasm.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        Maybe he’ll end up at Valve or Harmonix with the other Looking Glass alums, though I’d rather see him somewhere where he can get back into immersive sims. Dare I wish for Arkane?

        edit: dammit, missed the pun thread. IGNORE ME!

    • Kefren says:

      You’re all so ghoulish.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      What a rotten way to be fired (upon).

  11. Frank says:

    Too bad for his team! I’m sure Spector will stay in the games industry. Here’s hoping he finally works on non-AAA-budgeted games because I’m impatient, his last decade of projects have all been high-risk on account of their…accounting, and adapting to small games seems to be going well for Tim Schafer & co., the Banner Saga folks, and tons of folks who started small. Maybe he can hire one of those IGF student teams and build something interesting around their project, or make a top-down/isometric game building on the Wasteland 2 folks’ work in Unity.

  12. DickSocrates says:

    First Epic Mickey wasn’t very good. Second one was much worse. That’s why Junction Point has closed.

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    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Hopefully everyone involved will move on to making games people want, rather than fritter away 5 years making Wii Games for children featuring a character that doesn’t resonate with them at all and who are too busy playing Skylanders anyway.

  14. db1331 says:

    My employment status is augmented.

  15. ZIGS says:

    Didn’t Warren mention several times that he’s too old to still be making games? It felt that he’s been hinting that he wants to retire and this seems like a golden opportunity. I sure as hell hope he at least makes one more good game though. Call me crazy but maybe even assemble a small team and do a kickstarter for a low-fi/budget game, but one that’s deep and complex in the vein of Deus Ex? I’m sure people would literally throw money at him

  16. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Hope he joins Squeenix in beautiful Canadia. Love to seem him revisit the Deus Ex universe.

  17. yfrdtyid says:

    what Melvin implied I’m shocked that you can make $5577 in one month on the internet. did you see this website http://www.Cloud65.com

  18. Beybars says:

    How does one move from System Shock, Thief and Deus Ex (never mind Invisible War) to Mickey?

    I mean the man was successful in the first three titles, he was obviously not so successful with Mickey, so isn’t it logical for him to go back to his roots?

    • Jason Moyer says:

      His masters thesis was on Warner Bros cartoons, so doing games about golden age animation is basically ‘going back to his roots’.

  19. Bart Stewart says:

    It’s worth noting that Junction Point had some development under way on what looked like a (fantasy?) dungeon-crawler prior to their engulfment by Disney.

    Disney might have let JPS retain the rights to that game, although I don’t know where it would go with the dissolution of JPS itself.

    I’m grasping at straws here, obviously. But for my money, there aren’t nearly enough games being made in the “multiple ways to solve game challenges” model. I’d be very happy if Warren Spector decided to help produce a new game showcasing that player-centric design philosophy in shiny modern technology.

  20. Crosmando says:

    Can’t say I care for him or his former studio.

    Going from solid PC games like Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief and Deus Ex, to cartoon crap, well I say every less casual game developer in the world with a job makes gaming as whole better off.