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With Infinity Gone, Disney Drops Out of E3

The presence of San Fernando Valley area companies at the annual E3 video game trade show has continued to dwindle, with only five taking part in this year’s show. Notable by its absence was the interactive division of Walt Disney Co., which in years past had taken considerable space at the Los Angeles Convention Center to promote its console and mobile games. But in early May, the Burbank entertainment and media giant announced it was shutting down its console games business and discontinuing Infinity, its “toys to life” system that incorporated figurines of popular Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters into the game play. The figurines work by placing them on a stand with a sensor. A chip in the figurine’s base communicates with the sensor to create a digital version of that character within the game. Entertainment technology consultant Marty Shindler, of iShindler, in Encino, said while not speaking about Disney specifically, there are a number of reasons why an exhibitor would not take part in a large trade show, starting with the expense and how video games have year-round public relations events. Taking part at E3 this year were Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, in Burbank, which had attendees lining up to demo its newest Lego and Batman games; 505 Games, in Calabasas; accessories developer Performance Designed Products, in Burbank; game distributors U.S. Games Distribution Inc., in North Hills and Royal Electronics Inc., in Van Nuys. By far the biggest attraction at E3 was virtual reality or the creating of artificial sensory experiences by replicating an environment, either real or imagined. Sony Corp., with its PlayStation VR, and game developers Ubisoft Entertainment SA and Bethesda Softworks LLC were among the exhibitors creating lines hundreds of people deep to try out their VR titles. Even adult entertainment production company Naughty America, in San Diego, got a piece of the virtual reality action with its content. Shindler has tried most of the major headsets now on the market, including the Rift made by Oculus VR (owned by Facebook Inc., in Menlo Park) and the Samsung Gear VR, a joint venture with Oculus. The modern era of virtual reality was started by Oculus, whose founders were gamers and made that their initial focus, Shindler said. “Others are jumping in to work on games but also get involved in lots of other types of content,” he added. Game studios are going to give it a shot in developing VR titles only because they don’t want to miss out on what might be the next big thing for gaming. But broader acceptance of the technology is still another year or two away, Shindler said. For that acceptance to gain traction, the price of the headsets needs to come down, he added. For example, the Vive headset from HTC Corp. costs $799, while the Rift comes at $599 and the PlayStation VR headset carries a price of $399. “You have to be an avid gamer to want to get into that,” Shindler said. Warner’s Chief Accounant Warner Bros. Entertainment announced this month that Roger Willard has been named senior vice president and chief accounting officer for the Burbank studio. In the newly created position, Willard will be responsible for all accounting and compliance practices as well as treasury operations of the studio. Prior to joining Warner Bros., Willard served as senior vice president, corporate finance for Aecom, the Los Angeles engineering firm and as a partner at the management consultancy Sirius Solutions LLLP in Houston. Kim Williams, chief financial officer to whom Willard will report, called Willard a seasoned finance executive with broad, global experience. “With his background and proven leadership skills, he’s an excellent addition to our team, and I look forward to working with him as we guide the company through our industry’s ever-evolving and increasingly intricate financial landscape,” Williams said in a statement. Burbank Agency Hire Entertainment marketing agency Eclipse has expanded its brand strategy team with the addition of Leila Amirsadeghi as vice president of client development. Amirsadeghi will work on multi-platform content for product launches and marketing campaigns designed by the Burbank company. Chief Executive Steve Dubb said the 18 years of experience that Amirsadeghi brings in digital marketing is a tremendous asset to Eclipse. “She really understands her clients’ needs and vision, and delivers a final product that exceeds expectations,” Dubb said in a statement. Prior to Eclipse, Amirsadeghi was chief executive of Mesh, a consulting group in Eagleville, Pa., and had been vice president of client engagement at Trailer Park, an entertainment marketing firm in Hollywood. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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