Will Disney Finally Let Gamers See the Darker Side of Mickey Mouse?

With Disney promising to take a liberal approach to IP licensing, it's time they released a game that explores Mickey Mouse's darker side.
Posted in: GamingOp-ed
Published:
February 13, 2020 5:37 PM UTC
  • Disney’s IP licensing efforts have been wildly successful.
  • Sean Shaptow, a Disney executive, said they’re ready for developers to reimagine their IPs.
  • Now is the perfect time for a developer to make a Mickey Mouse game that’s marketed at adults.

Disney has quietly found massive success by licensing out its vast catalog of IPs to gaming publishers. Following the triumphant releases of Spider-Man and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the company plans to take that strategy in an even bolder direction.

At the recent DICE summit, VP Sean Shaptow said that Disney wants more developers to “reimagine” their IPs – not just make cookie-cutter adaptations.

If Disney is really going to let developers reimagine their franchises, then maybe we can finally get the dark take on Mickey Mouse first teased by Epic Mickey back in 2010.

Disney Needs to Let Mickey Mouse Explore His Darker Side

You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t be okay with seeing a horror game starring this monstrosity. Look how cool and interesting it is. | Source: Epic Mickey Wiki

It’s a well-known fact that Disney is ridiculously protective of its IP. The company’s “sensational six” seem to be very rigidly controlled to prevent their brand from being watered down.

Back in 2010, it seemed like we’d finally get a chance to see Mickey Mouse in a different light. Epic Mickey teased a surprisingly-dark take on the family-friendly character. Nightmare-fuel concept art only stirred the rumor mill.

Of course, Epic Mickey turned out to be about as dark as a summer’s day.

A decade later, we’ve still never gotten that dark take on the classic characters that we were hoping for. But with Disney loosening its tight-fisted grasp on its IPs, we might have a second chance.

Mickey Mouse Has Adult Fans Too

Disney’s primary demographic is kids and families, at least with its core cast of characters. Because they target children, they depict these characters as bright, colorful, and silly.

But this narrow focus ignores a huge part of Disney’s fanbase: adults.

Most Western adults grew up watching classic Disney. Live-action reimaginings of those classic cartoons have proven that mature approaches to these properties attract big audiences.

Mickey Mouse has adult fans too. | Source: ilikeyellow/Shutterstock.com

It’s no different for video games. Just look at how well Bendy and the Ink Machine sold.

Plenty of lifelong Disney fans would relish a Mickey Mouse video game that explored the character’s darker side. Placing him at the center of a story that’s genuinely scary could yield spectacular results.

Just imagine him being chased by that Goofy concept art. Terrifying.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

Josiah Wilmoth edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

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William Worrall @mizushinzui

William Worrall is a professional writer based out of the UK who has been writing about video and tabletop games for over a decade and has covered industry events such as EGX and UKGE. Visit his website, contact him at william.worrall@ccn.com, or see his LinkedIn profile here.

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