Licence to thrill

Warner’s Q1/Q2 range is quite a contrast to the family-orientated titles you released last year. Why is that?
I think that variety is a good indication of what Warner is all about. We are a massive media company with an eclectic intellectual property mix. The games market is a mass market now, so we are looking at how to target our IPs – and who to target them at.

That’s why in the last four months we have launched LEGO Batman, which won a children’s BAFTA, and Guinness World Records – two great family games. And now, just months later, we have an 18-rated horror game for adults on the way.
The key thing is that our mix of IP lets us explore the various avenues in the market. And not just in a consumer sense – it’s an approach we have for retailers too.

You’ve been at Warner for a year now. In that time, what have you seen that Warner, which of course built its reputation in Hollywood, is able to bring to the market that other games stalwarts – the EAs and Ubisofts of the world – cannot?
The proposition from Warner Bros. is that we are one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. So the leverage we have in a marketing sense is huge across a variety of media – DVD, cinema and games. Our reach really is second to none. And we deal in amazing brands.

From a cost point of view we can amortise the financial impact of that kind of wide-reaching marketing, because if you are linking up with a theatrical release our buying spend is great.
As well as entertainment, I think Warner brings a lot of professionalism into the industry, plus plenty of commitment – the company is incredibly committed and dedicated to having a significant presence in the games space.

So is your message to retail that Warner may be new to the games industry, but it’s an entertianment company you can trust with sure-fire sellers that will get a lot of support?
Yes, especially given some buyers are now being more selective as the market gets crowded with product.
Warner is an entertainment company first and foremost with an eclectic mix of IP and fantastic marketing ability. What we are offering is that I can sit in front of retailers – especially the multi-entertainment retailers – and along with my colleagues in our other fields like DVD, create a proposition around a brand that says ‘this is more than just a game’.

What is Warner’s view on new IP? All the Warner releases so far have been movie licences, brands or franchises.
There will, without doubt, be new IP coming from Warner. But again, our strategy is around brands, and it is very hard to create a gaming IP from scratch. The great thing for us in terms of those licences is that three of our releases – Wanted, Watchmen and Terminator – are truly iconic to the mass market, while a franchise like F.E.A.R. is iconic to gamers.

A lot of the Q1/Q2 Warner line-up also seems to be very focused on core gamer titles for 360 and – what about the DS and Wii?
That’s just the way the slate fell and how our products are evolving. We’re fully committed to games for the Nintendo DS and Wii, as proven by the LEGO Batman and Guinness releases from last year – and this summer’s LEGO Battles.

What about that kind of ‘dream IP’ that Disney has spoken about in the past – is Warner Bros. interested in trying to find a brand or property that could start in video games and then move out to films, animation and so on?
Our current strategy for new opportunities is a combination of both focusing on the brand but also, as shown by the Watchmen episodic game, embracing new technology and where that leads us. So we might have a mix where strong properties find new revenue streams that run alongside traditional retail.

Terminator is your big game for the summer. What are your hopes for that title?
We have high expectations. The previous three films were all substantial number one hits, and there is a great love of that IP. I believe there is a statistic that says over 50 per cent of cinema-goers have some kind of affinity with Arnie as the Terminator, which is the kind of franchise power that can only help us when we launch the game.

The title is very in tune with the movie production as well – again, this is something that comes from Warner’s leverage in entertainment.

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