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Disney Forms Games Studio

(September 19, 2001)
The Walt Disney Company has formed a new business unit, the "Buena Vista Game Entertainment Studio," with Jan E. Smith installed as its president.

Smith, a 14-year Disney veteran, will continue to serve in her current role as president of Disney Interactive while creating a new organization to leverage and combine new and emerging technologies, such as broadband and wireless, with video consoles, PCs, other technological innovations, and online games to deliver integrated interactive entertainment for a new and exciting consumer experience.


"As a new addition to our entertainment mix, the Buena Vista Game Entertainment Studio will leverage Disney's content and brands in some very creative and innovative ways while providing interactive and challenging experiences for kids, parents and entire families," noted Iger. "Technological changes are rapidly sweeping over the game industry. This new business unit will position The Walt Disney Company to take full advantage of this evolving landscape by consolidating our existing game activity and aggressively and creatively pursuing new opportunities and entertainment."

Citing Smith's background, Iger said, "Jan is highly qualified to lead Disney's effort. She has built a superb track record, especially during the past four years, in establishing Disney Interactive as a global leader. She has a thorough understanding of the entertainment and interactive businesses and has demonstrated strong entrepreneurial capabilities in new media."

Said Smith, "This is an exciting challenge to create new and dynamic entertainment that will complement and extend Disney's brands and media reach in both the online and offline worlds. I look forward to extending traditional definitions of entertainment with interactive programming based on quality, mass market appeal, community-building and synergistic integration with global brands."

Entertainment game software is a high-growth business, with retail software sales expected to reach $15 billion this calendar year. Soon, people no longer will have to sit together at a table -- or at a single PC or game station -- to play a game. They will be able to play and interact across continents and thousands of miles, through a variety of platforms or stations. Unlike most parlor games and even current online games, they need not even speak the same language to play together.

"Technology is blurring the lines of traditional entertainment," Smith said. "A variety of online platforms are emerging that will enable people to connect and play games together with a variety of devices -- televisions, conventional telephones, wireless phones, PCs, digital set-top boxes and other, future platforms -- with the potential of combining all this with television and interactive game content. With games as a key component, interactive entertainment will have a profound and lasting impact on today's entertainment industry."

Smith joined Disney in 1987 to help create and launch The Disney Store, served as vice president of Licensed Publishing and Creative Development, spearheaded the launch of several new book imprints as vice president and group publisher for Disney Publishing for Children, and then became executive vice president and subsequently president of Disney Interactive.

As head of the Buena Vista Game Entertainment Studio, Smith will report to Iger. In her continuing role as president of Disney Interactive, she will report to Andrew Mooney, president of Disney Consumer Products.



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