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DVDs Entering the Game-Guide Market

9 Apr, 2004 By: John Gaudiosi

G-NET Media (www.g-net.tv) has launched a new line of officially licensed video game strategy guides on DVD, which will be distributed nationally through FUNimation (which distributes “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” products) and available wherever video games are sold.

First out of the gate is the iGuide for Eidos Interactive's Hitman: Contracts, which ships April 21, the same day as the PS2, Xbox and PC game. The second iGuide ships June 1 in conjunction with Atari's launch of DRIV3R on Xbox, PS2 and PC. The DVDs retail for $19.99 and will include more than two hours of content. The Web-enabled DVDs include video walk-throughs of the games, which show gamers exactly how to get every last item and beat the game, as well as video-based galleries covering game story lines, characters, weapons and enemies. In addition to this content that will help gamers complete the game, bonus content like edited scenes from games, as well as making-of featurettes and other traditional movie DVD extras will come with each iGuide. Updated content will be available via the Web.

“We buy movie DVDs to watch the bonus materials on the discs, and we believe gamers want to experience these same type of extras with their favorite games,” said David Getson, CEO of G-NET. “These DVDs show you how to get the most out of your game purchase and offer pure entertainment value for gamers, ” he said.

The first two iGuides will delve into the history of the game franchises “Hitman” and “Driver.” In addition, the Hitman: Contracts DVD will feature sequences edited from the game to keep its ‘Mature' rating, including virtual nudity (with censored bars). The DVD also includes new music from Universal Music. DRIV3R will include content from Atari's extensive marketing campaign, which included the “Run the Gauntlet” online ad. When possible, Getson will incorporate celebrities into the bonus DVD content, since many actors are now working with games.

Getson said there will be at least three more iGuides shipping this year, and for 2005, there are plans to release 15 iGuides. By the end of this year, G-NET will have multititle, multiyear exclusive contracts with the majority of video game publishers to create iGuides for the top video games.

Traditional print strategy guides, which range in price from $14.99 to $19.99, bring in between 10 percent and 20 percent of a game's total sales. So a blockbuster that sells 2 million units will typically sell 200,000 print strategy guides. The fact that both PS2 and Xbox support DVD playback makes iGuides a natural extension of the game-playing experience, according to Getson.

“We aim to eat into the 20 percent strategy guide market space and grow the iGuide business to 30 percent of total game sales over the next few years,” Getson said. “It's pretty easy to predict which games are going to be big sellers and strategy guides have a solid attach rate. We feel the gaming market wants digital interactive strategy guides.”

It takes G-NET about six weeks to produce an iGuide. The company works directly with the game developer and publisher, using professional gamers to test early builds of games and uncover all the secrets.

Getson has a patent pending on the iGuide technology and plans on owning the DVD strategy guide business by locking up exclusives for all the big game releases over the coming years.

G-NET will face competition from GameTime (www.gametimemedia.com), which launched the first DVD-based strategy guide last fall wit its dvG for Ubisoft's Xbox Rainbow Six 3 game. Robert Yan, president of GameTime, said that the company is in negotiations to produce additional dvG strategy guides. And traditional strategy guide publishers like Brady and Prima will continue to churn out print strategy guides for all video games.

With the growing number of game consoles and DVD players in homes, it looks like the future of strategy guides is digital. Now video game strategy guides can be rented alongside their video game counterparts, opening up a new revenue potential that print strategy guides could never provide. With the sellthrough price point, DVD strategy guides also make great impulse buys for both hardcore and casual gamers.

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