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Mouse ups game stakes

Move makes studio first vidgame publisher

Disney has expanded its commitment to the vidgame market by increasing financial resources for its Buena Vista Games division, allowing it to begin self-publishing console titles.

Move makes the Mouse House the only studio acting as sole publisher for its own games for platforms like PlayStation 2 and GameCube. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment co-publishes some WB titles, while other studios license out their properties.

Buena Vista Games has previously published titles for GameBoy and PCs, but console games cost significantly more to create — often more than $15 million — making for a substantial commitment of funds by Disney to its vidgame biz.

“Given our 10 years of experience in the industry, this is a low-risk move and good business decision for us,” said Graham Hopper, senior VP in charge of Buena Vista Games. “It’s a natural evolution of our strategy since games are an entertainment medium in their own right.”

Getting jump

Hopper added that self-publishing will allow Disney to begin work on game adaptations earlier in the development process of movies. When circumstances allow, some Mouse House pics will be licensed to other publishers under the direction of Buena Vista Games.

First titles to be released under the new console strategy will be adaptations of Disney’s 2005 pics “Chicken Little” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.” Buena Vista Games is hiring outside developers to create both but will handle financing, marketing and distribution.

Games will be released at approximately the same time as the movies — summer and Christmas of 2005, respectively.