Disney hires Bungie founder as creative director

Disney hires Bungie founder as creative director
Michael French

By Michael French

September 8th 2009 at 11:51AM

Alex Seropian and his Wideload studio is acquired by Mickey Mouse firm

There seems to be no stopping Disney. One minute it is grabbing headlines for a $4bn buy of Marvel, the next it is signing up Bungie founder and Halo co-creator Alex Seropian to oversee its studios.

Reporting to Graham Hopper, the head of Disney's increasingly powerful games division, Seropian will be responsible for 'creative development across Disney’s in-house video game development teams', according to NBC.

Disney has also acquired Seropian's Wideload Games business, the studio he founded after leaving Bungie and which espoused a focus on outsourcing - other studios and art firms did the 'heavy lifting' on its first game Stubbs the Zombie, while Wideload oversaw the design.

Hopper has said that he sees Seropian's role being akin to that of a 'coach' for the Disney Interactive Studios operation, which employs 1,200 staff and includes US-based Avalanche and UK-based Black Rock.

"We're really trying to be a magnet in this industry for talent, as we are in so many other parts of the entertainment world," said Hopper.  "Having someone of Alex's caliber join us is a tribute to the great people we have here already."

In 2007, Disney also acquired Warren Spector's Junction Point studio. It's clear the firm is aiming to increase its activity in the core gamer space - beyond its 'bread and butter' family entertainment licensed titles.

Added Hopper: "We want to be bigger than what we are today – a lot bigger than what we are today. We don't have the ambition of trying to unseat the top players in the industry, because we don't have the market share goal. What we want to do is build up and introduce new [properties] to the game industry - and to Disney - and expose the company in a new way to consumers.

"It really is about building a team that can win. We want to be sure we have a creative environment where the best game makers in the industry are comfortable working – and where they want to work."

Seropian wants to likewise introduce new thinking to Disney: "For me, it's about 'what do I want to do?' I have some very specific goals for myself – redefining what the video game business is. And I did that with Wideload. [Disney and I] had this conversation about how can we take that kind of thinking and make it bigger.

"Look at Pixar. They are successfully making films that appeal to both families and film nerds – and that opportunity exists in games."