-- (November 12, 2007) Walt Disney Co. boss Bob Iger wants the Mouse House to grab a bigger piece of the video game business and plans to do it by stealing a page from its music strategy.
In much the same way that the company uses the Disney Channel as a launch pad for hit soundtracks like "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana," Iger intends to take a similar approach to minting hit video game properties.
"We intend to use [a multi-platform approach] to do exactly what we did in the music business to our video games business, but on a much larger scale," Iger told investors at the end of last week, calling it "another promising creative engine for Disney."
That means not only creating original titles out of its dedicated gaming division, but also creating games that spin off from popular movies and TV series.
In music, the company has effectively used the approach to develop a division that produces $100 million in income.
In games, Disney has visions of even bigger dollars.
Disney has been steadily increasing its spending on video game development, rising from around $100 million in 2006 to a projected $175 million in 2008. Within five years Disney reportedly is looking to spend as much as $350 million.
In fiscal 2007 the company acquired several specialty game studios and shipped 20 million published and licensed games.
On Friday Disney said it shipped 2 million units of "High School Musical: Sing It!", a game inspired by the popular Disney Channel original movies.
In the last year it has also created a number of online games based on hit movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Iger said Disney plans to increasingly gravitate to games it creates and develops itself.
The company has seen particular success in developing games for the handheld Nintendo DS system, the most popular gaming device among pre-teens. Disney ranks second only to Nintendo as the top game maker for the system.
On the way next year are video games from cash cows like "Hannah Montana," as well as from movie franchises including "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and the sequel to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which figure to be heavily cross-promoted across Disney properties. Added Iger: "We are a publishing company on the outside of the video games business. But where they [other companies] may not have a cable channel, or a movie company, or even a record business, or a radio business, or online - we have all of those. We intend to use them fully."