The big game brands are increasingly looking to spread their valuable IPs across multiple media formats. The upcoming Call of Duty movie is undoubtedly the standout story, but Activision Blizzard has been highly active in many other areas, too, including bringing its Overwatch IP to life via Madefire’s online comic book platform.
And Madefire really does bring comics to life with its Motion Book concept that adds animation and audio to the format. As well as Blizzard, it has done recent deals to bring back catalogue and new DC and Marvel comics to the platform. But it’s keen to work with more gaming publishers to help bring much-loved franchises to life on the digital page.
We talk to Madefire’s chief revenue officer, Jon Middleton (pictured below), about how the company differs from other digital comic book outlets and how gaming brands fit in with their plans.
How does the production process work? Who manages that process, and is there a single model or does it vary from property to property?
Madefire has built the definitive storytelling platform for the expansion or development of core fiction. Our Motion Books add animation and sound into the experience, and the end result is unique and not easily replicated elsewhere. To date, we have worked with game makers and content creators with widely differing production methods.
In some cases, we are developing stories, characters, and settings from scratch, while in some other ongoing projects we’re working with partners that have already developed full story arcs in static comics and we work to convert the content into our Motion Book product.
We’ve seen impressive success with our gaming partners, and Blizzard in particular has done a superb job enriching the Overwatch story with comics and Motion Books which adds depth and flavor to the universe (pictured, right). A great example is the new Motion Book we released for Overwatch, Junkertown – very cool work by the Blizzard team and our crew at Madefire.
Do you think that gaming properties have under-exploited comic books in the past? And why might that be?
That’s a great question and, to be clear, we’re working on all manner of content partnerships. We’ve got some very cool projects across film, TV, books – even music – and we’re excited to be working with some of the most prestigious names in gaming.
To date, I think most gaming companies with standout successes have relied heavily on a licensing model and have worked with some of the bigger names in comic publishing; DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, to name a few. This approach has been fairly successful on a terrestrial sales basis, as it allows game companies to put their fate in the hands of professional comic creators. However, we see a larger opportunity in working intimately with game makers to deliver newly developed digital stories directly to a game community where they live online.
Madefire’s platform is an ideal fit with these communities, and we’ve had some very positive responses to our unique approach to authentic content creation. A couple of decades in the gaming industry allows me to explore a lot of interesting avenues for Madefire in this space, resulting in an invigorated focus towards gaming.
What properties would you most love to work on?
There is a plethora of properties that would benefit from further character development and deeper story arcs. Mainly, I look at games that have hugely enthusiastic fanbases that have a true love for the game universe. Look at the wildfire of excitement behind PUBG. I know those gamers would love to have some further depth of story, but PlayerUnknown and Bluehole are rightly focusing on building the functionality of the game and online experience.
Personally, I’d love to have our team work within cool game universes including some of the biggest brands in games: Titanfall, Rocket League, Clash Royale – I’m happily addicted – DOTA 2, Cuphead, Sea of Thieves, Summoners War, Guild Wars, Ark, League, God of War, Smite… The list goes on and on.
"We see a larger opportunity in working intimately with game makers to deliver newly developed digital stories directly to a game community where they live online."Jon Middleton, Madefire
I’d also love to work with gaming platforms and traditional retailers to explore value-added opportunities where our game story extensions can better help merchandise and market new releases and older games alike. There’s a real opportunity at retail. The connective tissue, which stories build to further engage predisposed game fans, is unparalleled.
Madefire was founded to tell stories in a new and unique way, delivering a seamless and unique experience. Our Motion Book tools, app, marketplace and back-end technology were built specifically to deliver myths and heroes to the digital generation and we’re excited to where the future is taking us.
The games industry is our perfect set of partners. We both have strong affection for constructing inspirational digital experiences across all platforms of distribution. In the end, we know gamers love what we’re doing with comics and comic readers love the games we are hoping to work with in the future. It’s a perfect fit.
For me, as an industry guy for all these years, it’s exciting to give game companies another useful tool to add further excitement to their projects.
How does the DC deal help with the games and licensing side of the business?
The DC and Marvel deals we’ve recently announced, as well as our partnerships with Fox, IDW, Blizzard and many more, all deliver fresh comics and Motion Books to our consumer marketplace. These also build our ability to cross-pollinate between the comic world and other entertainment media. For instance, our Planet of the Apes Motion Book activation on DeviantArt led to a huge upswell of engagement for the War of the Planet of the Apes film release.
We see similar opportunities for game companies to curate their content and deliver new fans exactly what they love. Our DC Comics partnership has brought many of the most loved iconic comic characters and plot lines to our Motion Book and marketplace. We’ll be adding to that roster in the near future with the goal of creating the single best experience for comic lovers across any platform worldwide. We’ve tapped into an underserved appetite for game lovers, movie buffs, and comic fans alike – it’s going great!