Disney drowns its next 'Pirates of the Caribbean' video game
Walt Disney Studios' fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie is scheduled to come out in May, but it will arrive in port without the high-profile video game that had been sailing alongside it.
A spokeswoman for Disney Interactive Studios, Walt Disney Co.'s video game division, confirmed that Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, which had been scheduled to come out next summer, has been canceled.
It was the highest-profile video game title on Disney's slate for 2011. The company has spent millions on production over the last few years.
Disney is moving its video game emphasis away from consoles such as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and toward more casual online titles and virtual worlds. This summer the company bought social games developer Playdom for $563 million.
However, a person familiar with the situation said the decision to cancel Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned was based on an evaluation of the game's commercial potential and not because of an overall strategic shift.
Along with the cancellation, Disney has laid off one of the two game development teams at work in its wholly owned studio Propaganda Games in Vancouver. That represents about half of the roughly 200 employees who previously worked at Propaganda. The other team is finishing work on November's Tron: Evolution, a game tied to the December movie "Tron: Legacy."
News of the cancellation and layoffs was first reported on the video game blog Kotaku.
Last week, Disney announced that Playdom Chief Executuve John Pleasants would become co-chief of the Disney Interactive Media Group, overseeing the video game business. Pleasants is to run the group along with former Yahoo executive Jimmy Pitaro, who will oversee online media. Disney Interactive Studios head Graham Hopper, who oversees console games, will report to Pleasants when the pair start work Monday.
-- Ben Fritz