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Salt Lake City gaming studio not part of massive Disney layoffs

Published March 7, 2014 9:51 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Los Angeles • Disney is laying off 700 people from the interactive unit that makes video games and operates websites, about a quarter of the workforce in the division.

A Walt Disney Co. spokesman confirmed the layoffs Thursday. According to a source within the studio, none of the layoffs were expected to occur at Disney Interactive's Salt Lake City studio, Avalanche Software, which is currently producing the popular "Disney Infinity" video game. "Infinity" uses popular Disney characters in the game and also involves plastic figurines of the characters that unlock gaming content.

The layoffs narrow the company's focus on mobile and social games that use key Disney characters. Some games that Disney acquired when it bought social game maker Playdom in 2010 for $563 million, such as Sorority Life, will be discontinued.

It is also discontinuing one-time hits, such as music play-along game, Tap Tap Revenge.

Disney Interactive had long been a money-losing unit and last month posted only its third profitable quarter since results began being broken out in 2008, thanks in part to its Disney Infinity console game, which Disney will keep supporting.

The company shuffled the executive ranks at Disney Interactive in November. Co-president John Pleasants stepped down, leaving co-president Jimmy Pitaro with responsibility for the division.

In a statement Thursday, Disney said the restructuring was "difficult but necessary given our long-term strategy focused on sustainable profitability and innovation."

Shares of the Burbank, Calif., company added 37 cents to $83.05 in afternoon trading. Earlier in trading shares touched $83.42, an all-time high.