Disney Interactive GM Graham Hopper to Exit Next Month

News comes as company prepares to launch two big video games; Hopper's boss, John Pleasants, will take over his duties.

As Disney prepares to launch two of its bolder entries in the video game arena, the executive who manages the division that oversaw their creation is readying his departure from the company.

Graham Hopper, GM of Disney Interactive Studios, emailed his staff on Monday to tell them that after 19 years, eight of them at DIS, he'll step down in December and his duties will fall to his boss, John Pleasants, co-president of Disney Interactive Media Group.

While GM of DIS, Hopper expanded the unit by acquiring Junction Point Studios, Gamestar, Wideload Games, Tapulous and Playdom, but Disney CEO Bob Iger has been frustrated at the lack of profitability.

In the most recent quarter Disney's interactive media segment, which includes video games and Internet sites, recorded a $114 million loss while Disney's other four segments recorded profits.

News of Hopper's departure comes eight days before one of his signature achievements: the release of Disney Epic Mickey, whereby the iconic mouse deviates from his cheerful and ultrasweet demeanor and embraces his mischievous side.

The division also has Tron: Evolution coming Dec. 7. The game is designed to bridge the story between the upcoming film Tron: Legacy and the 1982 release Tron.

Disney, though, is moving away from big-budget console games and into mobile, online and social games, as evidenced by its Tapulous and Playdom acquisitions. Pleasants, in fact, was CEO of Playdom when Disney purchased it for $563 million.

Another game Hopper was excited about in June just ahead of the big E3 Expo video-game conference in Los Angeles was Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. Disney, though, recently scrapped it and announced Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, a licensed game that will be based on the first three movies in the film franchise as well as the fourth one due next year.

"The time has come for me to move on from the company and set my sights on new horizons," Hopper said in an e-mail Monday to employees.

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