Tag Archives: disney

‘A Disney character in every home in America’

Keith Gluck, The Walt Disney Family Museum:

Then one day in 1932, Walt received a phone call from an affable fellow named Herman “Kay” Kamen, a Kansas City advertising man. He had a vision of putting a Disney character in every home in America. Intrigued by his energy, and already dissatisfied with his current deal, Walt invited Kamen out to California to hear his proposal. During the meeting, Walt and Roy quickly learned that not only did he have great ideas, but they were also all on the same page in terms of only allowing high quality merchandise to be stamped with the Disney name. On July 1, 1932, Kamen signed with Disney. The contract outlined a 50/50 split of the profits, a deal with which both sides were highly content.

Kamen wasted little time realizing his vision. Soon Mickey and Minnie could be found in department stores everywhere, adorning such products as: napkins, wallpaper, books, phonographs, all types of clothing, hairbrushes, toys, and much more. Mickey products extended beyond the store shelves as well, thanks to annual, then biennial, merchandise catalogs published by Kamen.

I thought Reggie Fils-Aimé’s comment sounded familar.

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Would Disney Buy Nintendo?

Shortly after posting my thoughts on the announcement of Nintendo attractions in Universal Parks & Resorts, Ben Thompson reached out and asked a simple question:

I’ve posted a couple of pieces about the cross-over between Disney and Nintendo, most relevant to the possibility of a Disney acquisition of Nintendo on 11/21/14:

Star Wars is Disney.

Marvel is Disney.

It was as if I had never really given weight to the thought. Nintendo has always been so evident and ripe to fit along classic Disney franchises. But Marvel and Star Wars? Put in the context of Disney buying Nintendo and Nintendo just seems like a no brainer put up against the other two.

On the flip-side, the majority have been spelling doom for Nintendo for years. And Nintendo has been putting up one hell of a fight. Let’s see how these Super Smash Bros. numbers do.

(Turns out those Super Smash Bros. numbers have done pretty well. Nintendo’s fiscal year 2015 report states 6.75 million units for 3DS, 3.65 million units for Wii U.)

Thinking a bit more about butting up Nintendo’s cast of characters next to Disney’s, there is an odd dissonance that begins to materialize.

Personality

Nintendo’s IP (Mario & Co.) compete directly with Disney’s foundational IP (Mickey & Co.). They serve a like purpose for both brands, only Nintendo’s are largely mute and and lack archetypes. It’s difficult to identify with Mario, Link, and Samus and I think that would be a problem for Disney. That’s not to say Mickey, Minnie, and Donald are easy to identify with, but what has grown from their foundation are characters like Ariel, Elsa, and Aladdin. Likewise, Marvel and Star Wars characters such as Spiderman and Han Solo exude heavy archetypes that fans, child or adult, latch on to.

It may seem like nonsense in the context of playful, lighthearted entertainment, but archetypes are hooks. I’m a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, a team of four heavy archetypes. When playing as a child, I would pick which Turtle I wanted to be and act out their personality. Likewise, selecting a favorite Avenger (Captain America) adds a vast array of color to playtime or personal ethics. I’m not sure how kids go about acting out Mario vs. Luigi. (Other than a death-stare I suppose.)

Fight

Time and time again, Nintendo has shown that they can put up a fight. Most recently, with Wii U’s stagnant numbers, Nintendo tightened and polished mainstream hits like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. to help move the console back to relevancy.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata during the 2015 fiscal year financial results:

Specifically, I believe it was significant that “Mario Kart 8” and “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U” were released in the same year and that we have been able to maintain users’ active use of these titles months after their respective releases.

Lately, Nintendo has also been oddly quick to diversify and even innovate, entering into a new product category with Amiibo (of which 10.5M have already shipped), speaking with TV & Film creative houses, and most recently partnering with Universal to enter into the theme park market.

All of this speaks to Nintendo’s steadfast attitude and the pride that builds after proving themselves to the nay-sayers. From weird controllers to the motion-control frenzy to off-screen play, they remain resolute in their foundation as innovators; trusting themselves when embarking on new endeavors. Given the choice of the guarantee of making a buck or flopping with a new creative product, I trust Nintendo to stand-by the flop until it makes a buck.

I believe Nintendo sees themselves as the Little Mac to Disney’s Mike Tyson; a worthy underdog in the entertainment ring.

Price, or return?

Back to Ben Thompson’s initial question. Ben made the comment of “too pricey.” Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm for $4B each. Nintendo is currently holds a market cap of $25.73B. Disney currently stands at a market cap of $185.96B. Note that I have very little knowledge of how the financial markets work or if the price to buy would be based off of market cap. That said, I don’t entirely believe Nintendo would be too pricey, rather a return on an investment of $25.73B would stand to be an extremely long-game.

In a world where Disney owned Nintendo, I highly doubt any Nintendo property or product would see a rise comparable to that of the $2B in market cap the second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens generated for Disney. Nintendo’s current video game business would holdfast while their toy and other consumer products division would certainly expand. But, again, I don’t see a singular product, movie, or experience (let alone the speculation of success!) that would net as quick and massive a return as $2B. For Disney to see a valuable return on a Nintendo acquisition, I see Disney utilizing not only Nintendo IP but Nintendo’s game design infrastructure to boost the Disney Interactive brand, giving the weight and timelessness Nintendo franchises have to Disney games.

Lack of voice

Speaking of timelessness, I believe video games can be too timeless. In regard of Disney; their vault; and founding ideology of past, present, and future; time is key.

Great video games are seemingly endlessly re-playable for generations. Not to mention that the lack of captivating story elements in most Nintendo games means that they are typically always relevant because, well, they are not relevant at all. There is a tiny bit of nostalgia involved when playing a game you grew up with, but it’s not the sort of remembrance we give to artists of film and TV. It wasn’t until I saw Wreck-It Ralph that I my nostalgia meter peeked. I accredit this not to my remembers of the games, but the fact that Disney payed homage to my own private memories.

Likewise, video game production value has reached not what I would call a plateau, but a current landscape that spans generations. New 8/16-bit games are just as relevant as photo-realistic AAA titles. In the world of film, throwback production like The Artist, while great, can be considered novelty. That same sense of great timely novelty is what gives weight, connection, and excitement when seeing Han Solo on screen again. Possibilities are endless in video games that lack great voice talent. Because of this, I’m afraid that sense of great novelty and nostalgia would never happen on a mass scale for video games the way Disney would need it to.

Would Disney buy Nintendo? I say no. Disney doesn’t need Nintendo. Nintendo doesn’t need Disney.

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‘Disney can save Nintendo, and it would only cost $19 billion’

Steve Bowler, writing for Polygon:

Disney wouldn’t see Nintendo as a hardware company or even a software company, just as they didn’t see Marvel as a comic book company. Nintendo holds some of the best intellectual property in the world, from Mario to Link. Kids are still wearing Mario and Luigi shirts next to their classmates wearing Minecraft and Iron Man logos.

There are incredible properties, from Metroid to F-Zero, that would offer Disney huge opportunities in everything from film to theme park attractions. Nintendo, when looked at through the lens of an acquisition, is a bundle of amazing, well-known characters and worlds that are criminally underused.

Nintendo is the last company that owns characters that could compete with the worlds that Disney already controls, and adding Mario to the Disney original characters, Marvel superheroes and Star Wars would mean that Disney all but owns entertainment as a whole.

I initially scoffed at this article as a pipe dream so many of us have already had (especially yours truly), many after watching Wreck-It Ralph. One could sketch Nintendo franchise themed rides over a map of Disneyland. (Peach’s Castle in the hub, Metroid and Star Fox in Tomorrowland, Fantasyland becomes Hyrule, Donkey Kong in Adventureland, etc.) We have all certainly envisioned a reboot of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show using Super Mario 64 to current era models, worlds, and voices(?). Of course this sounds awesome/mind-blowing/impossible.

But then the reality of it all hit:

Star Wars is Disney.

Marvel is Disney.

It was as if I had never really given weight to the thought. Nintendo has always been so evident and ripe to fit along classic Disney franchises. But Marvel and Star Wars? Put in the context of Disney buying Nintendo and Nintendo just seems like a no brainer put up against the other two.

On the flip-side, the majority have been spelling doom for Nintendo for years. And Nintendo has been putting up one hell of a fight. Let’s see how these Super Smash Bros. numbers do.

UPDATE: How about that ad to the right of the piece?

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.10.56 PM

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Ed Catmull on Icons and Story in Games

I had the fortunate opportunity of seeing Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, in a moderated conversation today.

During the Q&A, an audience member asked Catmull if there exists a current icon who fills the roll of Walt Disney, a man known as a figure who focused on the impact of technology on human experience and story and delivered his message to the public via TV broadcast. While my head went straight to Neil deGrasse Tyson as a viable figure, Cutmull’s answer was quite interesting.

A bit of Catmull’s reply, paraphrased by yours truly:

You can’t make another Walt or another Steve or another John. I think this is a problem the games industry faces. They make great experiences but have a hard time telling great stories. I think we have yet to see who will make that happen.

He deliberately went out of his way to focus on the games industry. He had also made reference to the games industry earlier in the discussion; however, the context is now escaping me.

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‘Disney Infinity’ to introduce Princesses

‘Disney Infinity’ to introduce Princesses
USA Today

The House of Mouse brings more girls to gaming.

“Disney Infinity producer John Vignocchi says the Princesses’ arrival marks the biggest rollout of toys for the action game since launching in August.

‘The female characters, especially the Princesses, were among the top requests,’ says Vignocchi.”
– USA Today

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