Disney is now inviting video game developers to expand and re-imagine the lore of its most iconic franchises. The entertainment juggernaut’s Senior Vice President of Games and Interactive Experiences announced this new approach to their video game endeavors at the 2020 DICE Summit at the Aria Convention Center in Las Vegas yesterday, telling the game makers in attendance that they want to take their interactive storytelling to new heights.

In recent years, Disney has been moving away from developing video games for their various IPs in-house, closing down their internal game studios and licensing the rights to make titles based on franchises like Marvel and Star Wars to outside publishers. In fact, the company’s last major in-house title for consoles was the toy-based Disney Infinity, which was discontinued in 2016 immediately prior to the reshuffling of publisher Disney Interactive Studios to focus on mobile games. Prior to this, the studio largely handled video game adaptations of Disney’s various animated features and shows, most of these being simple re-tellings of their stories rather than expansions of them – an approach Disney wishes to change going forward.

As detailed by THR, Disney Senior VP of Games and Interactive Experiences Sean Shoptaw announced the company’s new video game strategy onstage at the DICE Summit yesterday. “I'm here for one specific reason: to empower you to do really unique things with our [catalog]," he explained the crowd of game developers present at the event. "We want to tap into the power of creatives across the industry.” He went on to invite developers to “come and play” with Disney’s massive array of beloved franchises, including those acquired in the Disney merger with 20th Century Fox last year like Avatar and Bob's Burgers. Shoptaw also empathized the importance of original storytelling in such projects and expressed a desire to see developers “re-imagine” classic Disney characters and worlds.

This approach to game licensing isn’t far removed from what Disney has done so far with the likes of Marvel and Star Wars, as the company is under a multi-year agreement with Electronic Arts to produce games based on the latter and has worked with developers like Insomniac for the former. It has proven successful too, with Insomniac’s Marvel's Spider-Man being deemed the best-selling superhero game of all time and last year’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from EA having one of the fastest-selling openings for a Star Wars video game title.

Given these successes, it makes sense for Disney to open its vast toy chest of iconic worlds and characters to developers, allowing them to play around in order to produce more hit games in the future. Having these games expand and re-envision some of the franchises gamers grew up loving is an exciting prospect, and a lot of Disney’s films still leave plenty of room for further stories, even those set in an interactive medium. Imagine an open-world detective game based on Zootopia, or an RTS set in the world of Planet Of The Apes, for example. The possibilities presented could make for intriguing – and magical – gaming experiences in the years to come, something Disney hopes to make possible with help from the game development community.