Disney Interactive Studios has acquired Chicago-based Wideload Games, and with it has hired founder and CEO Alex Seropian, who takes the newly-created role of vice president of creative.
Seropian is likely the primary motivator of the acquisition; he's renowned as co-founder of Bungie, where he helped establish the Halo series. He'll now move to Glendale, CA and oversee creative development for all Disney's games, reporting to global product development head Jean-Marcel Nicolai.
The studio he founded in Wideload pioneered an unusual outsourcing model, by which external studios were paid for the work they contributed to a project, rather than their time.
This proved an effective method of reducing financial risk, but the company's best-known projects, Stubbs the Zombie and Hail to the Chimp, performed only modestly; the former received some critical acclaim, but the latter's reception was mixed.
The 25-member studio will remain intact in the deal, staying in its Chicago location and led by Wideload Games president Tom Kang. It will focus on creating new IP for Disney that "target a broad audience," starting with an unannounced family-friendly project aimed at a 2010 release.
The studio's "Wideload Shorts" division, which focuses specifically on smaller, casual and downloadable titles, will also continue under Disney.
"Wideload Games will be a great fit for our portfolio of internal studios, and Alex joining the global product development team provides the entire Disney game portfolio with a strong creative influence," says Disney Interactive Studios EVP Graham Hopper. "Alex’s leadership of our creative community will enhance our ability to be a magnet for the best talent in the industry and enable the company to take an even more significant role in developing industry leading products."
Seropian founded Bungie in 1991, overseeing the creation of the Marathon and Myth series. He negotiated the studio's acquisition by Microsoft in 2000, and led the launch of Halo. He founded Wideload in 2003, and since then, the studio has released Stubbs, Hail to the Chimp, Texas Cheat ’Em and Cyclomite.
"Joining Disney is an ideal next step, both for our studio and me," says Seropian. "At Wideload, we’ve conscientiously built a forward-looking approach to game development that borrows many techniques from the film industry. Now, Wideload will be a part of one of the largest, most respected entertainment companies in the world."