Video games based on the latest cinematic releases are no longer news – in fact, it’s more newsworthy when there isn’t a hastily developed tie-in. However, in the case of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game, there’s an unusual buzz among gamers.
As Avatar approaches, Ubisoft has promised that the spin-off has received just as much dedication and development time as the likes of Assassin’s Creed, and a few key features should make it stand out from the usual box office cash-ins.
“Our expectations are in line with those for the movie, which is being tipped to be a landmark moment in cinematography,” explains brand manager Phil Brannelly.
“This is a high-quality licensed game. It will be a much higher quality product than most movie tie-in games to date. And when the film comes out? Pandemonium.
“We acknowledge that we have a challenge in changing the perception of movie-to-game licences amongst core gamers, but with Ubisoft Montreal developing the game on an enhanced version of the Far Cry 2 engine, over a three-year development period, we expect to explode these preconceptions.
“For the mass market, who will be swept up in the Fox marketing machine, the game provides a perfect companion piece to the movie allowing them to further explore James Cameron’s world.”
Avatar: The Game invites players into the universe of the sci-fi flick from the creator of Titanic and Terminator.
Focusing on events set before the upcoming film, the game takes place on the beautiful world of Pandora, where the RDA Corporation is endangering the indigenous species of the planet, the Na’vi, as it mines for rare materials.
Players pilot their own Avatar, a hybrid of human DNA and a Na’vi body, as they explore the Pandoran jungle to research the strange blue creatures.
As they become wrapped up in the ongoing struggle between the two factions, players must choose where their allegiances lie: with the RDA and their own people, or with the Na’vi’s overwhelmed tribe?
It’s a strong narrative that fits in perfectly with the movie, and one that Ubisoft believes will be a key selling point when the game is released.
“The storyline is one of the game’s standout features. It has been designed as a prequel to the film, so it’s telling its own story within James Cameron’s Avatar universe,” Brannelly says.
“Within that storyline, there is a dual experience where one can play as the human face of the RDA, ‘researching’ the planet, or the Na’vi who are protecting their home. This is a real double-edged experience.”
Crucially, the game will also feature a 3D mode on PS3 and Xbox 360, which makes James Cameron’s world look more incredible than ever before. Stepping up from the stereoscropic 3D technology that has been worked into a few titles this year, this is actually compatible with the 3DTVs due for release in the UK next Spring.
“In the USA and Japan, 3DTVs are now readily available, so the game is ready for that market,” says Brannelly.
“Unfortunately here in the UK, as usual, we’re about six months behind but it’s in there and, courtesy of JVC, we have been lucky enough to play and demo it to the press. It has to be seen to be believed and, like the film, will change its industry forever.”
With a solid game running beneath the rich narrative and the allure of the first 3DTV-compatible game, Avatar is certain to draw interest among gamers when it arrives this December.
AV' SOME OF THAT
While the film has received an impressive amount of coverage over the last year or so, thanks in no small part to the legacy of its director, Ubisoft is working hard to make sure the game receives just as much attention.
The main focus will be on a heavyweight TV campaign, designed to reach the broadest audience possible. Ubisoft is aiming to reach 71 per cent of 16 to 34-year-old males, estimating that each will see the ads an average 3.8 times.
Ads will run around key programming that targets boys, dads and movie fans. The publisher has arranged a two-phase campaign that will see game-specific ads intertwined with Fox’s marketing of the movie, ensuring plenty of exposure throughout December.
Avatar: The Game will appear in ads across all Official magazines, expanding onto sites of specialist and mainstream interest online. Overall, Ubisoft expects to rack up 12 million impressions throughout November and December.
Creatives and videos will run across such destinations as VG247, Gamespot, Videogamer, Eurogamer, Game Trailers, Console Monster and TVG. Targeting a wider audience, online ads will also run across FHM.com, Zoo Today, Sky Sports Network, MSN Messenger, MSN Network and Miniclip.
A range of POS will be available to retailers from Trilogy, including A2 posters, giant dummy boxes, RDA human standees and Na’vi standees.
The game has also been sampled at a number of public consumer events, including Eurogamer Expo, MCM Expo and Multiplay M Festival.