Oscar Special: Movie Games Roundtable Part 1

Meet The Panel

David Tyler,
Head of Marketing,
Activision Blizzard

Activision’s upcoming movie-line up includes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June), Monsters Vs. Aliens (April) and Xmen Origins: Wolverine (May). The firm is also set to launch other titles in the James Bond franchise, following last year’s successful Quantum of Solace release.

Adam Roberts,
European MD,

After selling over 2.5 million copies of its Ben 10 game, D3P continues its love affair with licenced properties with a game based on the upcoming Coraline (May). The company is also working on a game based on Astro Boy.

Keely Brenner,
Head of Marketing,
Disney Interactive Studios

Disney’s obvious ties with the movie industry has made it a key force when it comes to video game tie-ins. The publisher has just released its latest tie-in, based on animated hit Bolt, and will release a game based on the Hannah Montana movie in April.

Spencer Crossley,
Head of Games,
Warner Bros.

Warner’s video game arm prides itself on its movie IP. Last year the publisher released Speed Racer and the hugely successful Lego Batman, while this year Watchmen, Wanted and a game based on the new Terminator film will hit shelves.

Jonathan Bunney,
Executive Producer for the Harry Potter franchise,
EA Bright Light

Kevin Flynn,
Product Manager for Godfather II,

One of the most successful publishers in the movie-game space is set to release some highly promising movie IP this year. Games include Harry Potter: And The Half Blood Prince, The Godfather II and a game based on the upcoming G.I. Joe Movie.

Luke Letizia,
Vice President Interactive Licensing,
Paramount Digital Entertainment

Paramount has a dedicated video game licensing/production program, and the firm is currently working on titles such as Iron Man: Aerial Assault, Saturday Night Fever: Dance! and Days of Thunder. The firmis also working with publishers and developersfor the Mean Girls game and The Godfather II.

Rob Goodchild,
Licensing Manager,

Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep arrived on Nintendo’s DS late last year courtesy of D3P. This year, Telltale Games will release Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Arcade on Xbox Live Arcade and PC.

Lee Kirton.
Head of PR.
Atari UK

Atari has two of the most anticipated movie tie-in games on the way this year, in the form of Ghostbusters and The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. The company has enjoyed previous big success with titles based on The Matrix licence.

Ubisoft Spokesperson

French publisher Ubisoft has dabbled with movie licences in the past, most notably with its King Kong tie-in. The firm is currently working on a game based on James Cameron’s 3D stereoscopic movie, Avatar.

The Roundtable:

What do movie-licences bring to video games?

Lee Kirton: Movie Licences puts you in your favourite characters’ shoes. It’s a perfect way of allowing you to carry out some of the cool moments seen in movies such as The Matrix and James Bond, whilst keeping in with the licence and story.

Ubisoft Spokesperson: There is always a very nice synergy between a film and a video game. Films allow the viewer to be transported into a specific story that takes place in a specific time frame. And video games allow the viewer to continue that experience and to interact with the universe and characters of a film in a new and different way.

In many cases, the audience for the two different mediums overlap but some film fans will only choose to play film-based video games or perhaps discover video games for the first time as a result of wanting to extend the film experience by playing the video game. In all cases, the two mediums both come at the same goal of immersion and storytelling from different angles and it’s nice to be able to explore the different creative visions that both mediums bring.

Adam Roberts: Movie-licences have always been an important source of content for the games industry, and can deliver significant benefits to both the creation of, and the marketing of games. Among these benefits is the event of the movie launch and its PR and marketing campaign, the chance to capture new/broader audiences, and also (depending on the movie’s success) access to sequels and spin offs.

Movie-licences like Coraline help to grow the casual gaming market and provide the opportunity to step away from traditional environments and storylines, helping capture new and younger audiences like the growing girl-gaming market

Jonathan Bunney: Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon, not just in movie terms but from a literary perspective as well. Harry Potter brings us great characters, worlds and stories that are already proven successes, so we can focus on making a fun and authentic game that will meet the high expectations of the millions of fans, and not spend all our time and resources arguing about whether or not the lead character should have glasses or not.

Keely Brenner: Obviously it also brings a lot of media awareness, but it’s important not to undervalue the quality of the source material.

The opportunity to create a game inspired by a movie licence allows the opportunity to expand upon the excitement and fantasy of the cinematic experience. Games inspired by films also bring a wider demographic to the market because of the larger film-going audience.

Could you tell us about your movie titles, what makes them unique?

Spencer Crossley: We have high expectations for our new Terminator game. 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 ove 50 per cent of cinema goes 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 product.

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

Kevin Flynn: The Godfather II is an open-world action adventure spanning New York, Florida and Cuba that allows players to both act like a mobster and think like a Don. The power is in the hands of the player by growing their family in an effort to become the most powerful mob syndicate in America. Gamers can stay one step ahead of other families by using the revolutionary Dons View – a 3D representation of your criminal empire – that allows you to coordinate your strategy. The Godfather II is the ultimate organised crime experience that goes beyond the film and delivers an open-world game that blends action and strategy and allows you to call the shots.

Lee Kirton: Atari has a number of movie games in production. The first title to mention would be The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. This new Riddick title follows on from the critically acclaimed Escape from Butcher Bay, which is regarded by most as one of the greatest movie games ever created.

As for Ghostbusters, it has been a media favourite since it was first announced quite a while ago and we’ve been working solidly with the developers to make sure the ultimate Ghostbusters game will be delivered.

Adam Roberts: Coraline is a stop-motion animation aimed at girls aged 7-12, an age group where the gaming audience is growing. Based on a best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman, Coraline boasts A-list celeb voice overs (Terri Hatcher & Dakota Fanning) and it’s directed by award winning Henry Selick, (Nightmare Before Christmas) – it’s definitely not a standard shooter based on yet another action movie.

Ubisoft Spokesperson: I think it’s safe to say that Ubisoft is known for bringing a unique creative vision to our film titles. In King Kong, we created a whole new story that complemented the film and allowed the player to play as himself or as Kong. For Avatar, we are working very closely with James Cameron to bring a unique 3D stereoscopic interactive experience to life. When Ubisoft signs a film license, it is often because the film director specifically wants to work with our creative teams.

Jonathan Bunney: The Harry Potter video games are unique in many ways. But there are two that we really focus upon. We bring the story, world, characters and action to life to a level of authenticity that other games cannot. The movies are based on 600 page books that we can be thinking about before the movie script is written, we’ve worked with the same movie production team for six consecutive projects – building up a deep level of trust and respect, the movies are filmed just an hour from our development studio and because we’re British developers bringing British IP to life – which can’t be underestimated. I believe our games really are closer to the movies than anyone else’s.

Keely Brenner: Disney has always been renowned for epic storytelling. Disney Interactive Studios movie-inspired titles expand upon the stories by providing a deeper insight whilst taking consumers beyond the boundaries of the film but still staying true to the film property.

We strive to be innovative when it comes to our movie-inspired games. Some examples of innovation include the dancing mechanics on the latest High School Musical 3 games or the ability to use laser beam eyes and a sonic bark in Bolt.

David Tyler: Movie licences bring recognisable characters to the audience, and familiarity is a key selling point for children. A title such as Monsters vs Aliens offers a storyline which covers the scenes from the movie and beyond, which appeals to younger children as they are able to play through familiar and engaging storylines. This really helps them to understand and relate to their objectives within the game, whereas older children with more gaming experience are offered the opportunity to stretch the gameplay well beyond the scope of the movie, thereby avoiding predictability.

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