With Arkham City and new family LEGO and Sesame Street titles on the way, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment is handling some of this Christmas’ biggest and most mass market titles. MCV quizzed president Martin Tremblay to find out more.
THE NEXT BATMAN GAME…
Warner is responsible for one of the most hotly-tipped games of Q4, Batman: Arkham City, the sequel to the best-selling Arkham Asylum.
While that first game was actually published by Eidos, the transition to Warner’s stewardship has been smooth – it already had an active hand in the original, and bought developer Rocksteady Games. So in the road to the sequel, Warner has simply but successfully built and built on what went before. Meaning City should hit much harder than the already-impressive Asylum.
Explains Tremblay: “Rocksteady Studios is making Batman: Arkham City an extremely high quality gaming experience and our Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment team is working to make the game’s launch a true worldwide event with unprecedented retail support and our biggest marketing campaign to date.
“Fans and press seem to love the game more with every showing and the pre-order campaign is the largest of WBIE’s to date, so we are excited to deliver the final product in October. “We are extremely happy with the Rocksteady acquisition, as it contributes to our tent pole games strategy for the action adventure game genre.”
…AND THE ANTI-BATMAN GAME
One admirable quality of the Arkham games has been a resolute focus on single-player. There are no half-hearted multiplayer modes tacked onto a game where the allure comes from playing comics’ most iconic hero.
But WBIE knows there is a multiplayer + Batman market, and 2012’s Gotham City Imposters, a squad shooter that sees players join rival gangs inspired by Batman or his villain rival The Joker should fit the bill. It mixes the property’s qualities with staples of the FPS genre, and launches as a downloadable title early next year.
Tremblay describes the game as “the anti-Batman game, in which we are trying something new with the first-person shooter genre and offers a different, over the top twist on multi-player for DC Comics fans”.
“The customisation in the game allows fans to utilise familiar weapons and gadgets modelled after Batman’s arsenal but there are also all new original items, too.
“The game is also an important digital initiative for us that leverages two of our acquired developers – we are combining [FEAR creator] Monolith’s great knowledge of first person shooters and the digital and community management expertise of [Lord of the Rings Online studio] Turbine in the making of Gotham City Impostors.”
AN IMMORTAL FRANCHISE
A milestone in the development of the Warner Bros games business was buying key Midway Games assets when the firm fell into bankruptcy. Specifically, it swooped for the Mortal Kombat franchise and its developer talent, including original creator Ed Boon.Warner’s first MK game arrived in April, and was only held off from a UK No.1 by Portal 2.
“We are very pleased with the success of Mortal Kombat so far,” says Tremblay, adding that the game has now sold close to 3m units worldwide.“With the launch of Mortal Kombat, we have already paid for the acquisition of the Midway assets, and we are just beginning to leverage this acquisition with much more to come.”
SERVING THE MASS MARKET
As well as publishing core gamer titles, WBIE has held true to its mass market roots releasing a string of best-selling kids’ and more casual games such as the LEGO titles.
More of those, plus a Sesame Street game, are on the way, but last month key figures said that the younger and casual audience is drifting from traditional games. What’s Warner doing to appeal to them?
He says: “We are continuing to see the popularity of the LEGO games soar as they get better with more enhanced graphics and gameplay mechanics. Thus, we are looking forward to launching LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 this autumn. The acquisition of TT Games in 2008 placed us in a leadership role with kids and casual gaming, and we continue to invest in that space with upcoming titles like Happy Feet Two.
“Warner also took a new approach to the pre-school market with the Sesame Street games for Wii and DS, and we have found there is an audience for this type of educational, inspirational game. This is why we are excited to launch the Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster in September for Kinect.”