Video games themselves can of course be a form of merchandise.
Most major movie releases and popular kids programmes are complemented by new games, from straight-up tie-ins like The Adventures of Tintin and Namco’s popular Ben 10 series to derivative works like LEGO Harry Potter.
Such licensing deals can be extremely lucrative, and new opportunities are presenting themselves from other forms of entertainment all the time.
“We’ve found the market to be quite risk adverse in places at the moment,” says Ubisoft’s commercial manager Chris Marcus.
“The brands that have been a proven success over the years from TV, film and music seem to feature strongly in some of the ranges at present.”
Sadly, licensed video games have developed a bad reputation amongst consumers thanks to a slew of rushed and tenuous tie-ins, but some publishers have managed to buck this trend.
“Without the time pressure of a specific cinematic release, Batman: Arkham City is a great example of how fantastic licences can be and how licensing can work really well as it is a very strong standalone product,” says Majesco’s international MD Jason Dutton.
“It’s not always necessary to try and tie a game in to a particular release window when the movie or product launch comes out if you’re working with a brand that strong.”
Dutton’s own licensing team was responsible for securing the rights to retail phenomenon Zumba Fitness. He says such success is dependent on all parties involved.
“It really comes down to us as the publisher finding studios and licensors that we can work well with to create the most competitive and compelling content for the licence in question,” he says.
“Once you have all three of those parties working in symmetry everyone benefits, particularly the consumer. Licences must be equally supported by all parties and therefore must also be mutually beneficial. That is what we’ve achieved with Zumba.”
The rise of iPhone, iPad and browser games have created new avenues for publishers, broadening the potential audience, and many believe this will be a major growth area for video game tie-ins.
“We believe the market for licensed games lives on. However, the way consumers play games in 2012 has simply evolved,” says P2 Games co-director Gerry Whiteside.
“The variety of gaming platforms available and the growth of smartphones and tablets gives greater freedom than ever before, so our job is to deliver content that gamers want to play which may not necessarily be the same for each platform.”