Expected in 2011, very ambitious, supposed to be the first attempt to create an open world game based on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, “Army of the Damned” was unfortunately scuttled by Disney …
Like almost all film franchises, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean saga has not escaped the rule of derivative products, especially in video games. You may have seen the game pass Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, edited at the time by Disney and released in 2011, in the wake of Pirates of the Caribbean: the Fountain of Youth. The game also integrated the intrigues, places and characters of the 4th opus of the saga orchestrated by Rob Marshall.
If the Lego game, developed by the studio TT Games, specialized in the license, was quite nice and full of humor, trademark of titles stamped Lego elsewhere, the firm with big ears unfortunately unplugged a year earlier, in October 2010, a much more ambitious project.
It was nothing short of an open world Pirates of the Caribbean game. His title ? Pirates of the Caribbean: Army of the Damned. Prior to the set of events of The Curse of the Black Pearl, the game had to follow James Sterling, a pirate captain whose main mission was to travel across the Caribbean Sea to build a reputation.
An almost stillborn pirate
The development of the action game – adventure / role-playing game Pirates of the Caribbean: Army of the Damned was entrusted to the good care of the studio Propaganda Games, owned by Mickey at the time. With a battalion of 200 people, the studio had carte blanche to create the universe of a game that Disney wanted as a canon for the franchise.
After a year of development, it was presented with great fanfare in 2009 at the E3 show, and caused a sensation. A year later, the title unveiled a nice cutscene; there is a trailer left of this presentation, which is here …
In parallel with the development of this upcoming game, Propaganda Games is also working on another license: a game supposed to support the release of Tron legacy, called Tron Evolution. Only this game will finally be released, in December 2010, while the ax will fall on the game Pirates of the Caribbean, which rumored that Disney had found the title too violent.
Propaganda Games will not recover : a restructuring of the studio, imposed by Disney, left more than 100 employees behind. The remaining development team worked to complete Tron: Evolution, also including the team affected by the layoffs. After which the studio was definitively closed.
The fire is smoldering under the ice
In reality, the explanation for the cancellation of the game Pirate of the Caribbean goes, of course, well beyond the question of the supposed violence of the title to come.
Even before Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney at the time, decided without qualms to slash the legendary LucasArts studio in 2013, a bad wind was blowing on the video game development studios bought by Disney over the years. In 2010-2011, Disney had not yet decided to simply sell adaptation licenses and no longer develop games in-house. But she glanced greedily at the exploding market for video games on Smartphones.
It is in this well understood interest that in July 2010 she spent the tidy sum of $ 763 million to buy the company Playdom, big competitor of Zynga, specializing in mobile games. The big underperformance of sales on games Tron Evolution and alas Epic Mickey 2 have succeeded in convincing Disney to liquidate almost all the studios working under its flag.
The Disney empire may well swim in rivers of dollars on the cinema side, in particular thanks to the exploitation of the Marvel and Star Wars licenses, the failure of the firm with the big ears in the video games department is scathing. With a loss amounting to 147 million dollars for its video games division in 2016, the firm announced that it was ending the publishing of games on consoles, de facto burying Disney infinity, the game – toy with its figurines, supposed to represent a real martingale with in its catalog licenses as strong as the Marvel or Star Wars team, but also Pixar and house productions. Released two years after the toy games franchise Skylanders side Activision, Disney infinity ultimately did not survive.
For years, the company has sought to achieve the same success as its rival Warner Interactive; one of the few surviving Majors to have an internal division devoted to video game development and to have bought several development studios to achieve its ends.
But Disney never stopped …