While Disney is a veritable powerhouse in film and television, the company has struggled with its attempts to break into gaming as a publisher or developer in its own right. While a mobile division of the company does exist, previous gaming arms of the company - such as Disney Interactive - have been shuttered. The bulk of Disney’s success has thus far come from its licensing of IPs to a variety of third-party developers and publishers, including some of the biggest cross-platform game makers on the planet such as Square Enix and Electronic Arts.
While moving into a gaming may seem like a sound strategy, Iger is reportedly non-committal. Notably, despite overseeing a number of major acquisitions in the entertainment space, such as Marvel Entertainment in 2009 and LucasFilm in 2012, Iger has historically been reluctant to expand beyond visual mediums - however, he can be convinced. Disney subsidiary ESPN struck a $1.5 billion deal with Penn Entertainment (now ESPN Bet) in August, branching into sports gambling in the process - a move Iger previously insisted would impact Disney’s reputation. As such, this reluctance could change should the right opportunity present itself.
Is Disney bringing magic to mobile?
So what companies would be in-line for an acquisition? Arguably, Disney has seen the most success in gaming through its collaborations with two studios: Kingdom Hearts developer Square Enix and Star Wars Jedi developer Electronic Arts. With Sony reportedly considering an acquisition of Square Enix, it’s possible that the company would be open to offers.
However, Disney has a particularly strong working relationship with Electronic Arts. The company is currently working on several games based on Disney titles, including three new Star Wars games and three Marvel titles. This strong working relationship could therefore make EA a particularly attractive prospect should Disney decide to go in that direction. EA also has a particularly strong presence on mobile, the world’s most profitable gaming platform. As such, an acquisition could see Disney quickly recoup its investment, while firmly placing the company at the forefront of the games space.
We listed Square Enix and Electronic Arts as two of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2023.