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Movie-Game Marriage Still Strong

10 Jan, 2006 By: Kurt Indvik

The buzz over who will direct the film version of the popular “Halo” game franchise points to the increasing importance of the marriage of film and game brands.

The Halo film is slated for a 2007 theatrical release by Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox. Executive producer Peter Jackson reportedly approached Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro to helm the picture, but nothing has been finalized.

This is a recent example of game franchises crossing over to films, as discussed during a panel at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

With video games capturing an expanding share of prime time use by consumers 18 to 35, major media companies are focusing on entertainment brands that can appear on a broad array of media platforms, panelists said.

“The real success of the future will be [media and game companies] working together to build entertainment experiences across platforms,” said Louis Castle of Entertainment Arts. “Not just taking one [platform license] to another.”

To do that, executives need to bring in partners from the different entertainment platforms as early on as possible to optimize product development and market timing.

“I have watched time and again big media companies come in with wonderful [game] product at the wrong time … and get killed,” Castle said.

Next-generation game platforms coming to market in 2006 promise a new, more expanded, role for the game console in creating a cross-entertainment experience, said Microsoft Xbox's Kevin Browne. He said the focus is how to turn the game console into an “entertainment center.”

THQ's Germaine Gioia said game developers often view Hollywood licenses as an “insurance policy” against the millions of dollars and years of investment made in creating a major new game.

“As video game publishers, we're taking a big, big risk, and we only have the game,” she said.

Gioia added that 2006 will be the year major studios are “getting it right” with video games, investing more time and money into their development.

Certainly, video game developers already are working closely with major media companies in the development of licensed games. Dan Daglow of game developer Storm Front Studios said that entertainment companies know story and character development as well as how to create emotional impact in audiences. Meanwhile, game developers know game play and interactive engagement.

“Game play and storytelling are two different crafts … and we need each other,” he said. Developers, he said, must recognize with major licenses that they have, “a precious trust to add to the value of an entertainment brand that people love.”

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