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THQ Fields Three Big Movie-Based Games for Kids

6 Dec, 2004 By: David Ward

Hollywood is keeping watch over The Incredibles, The Polar Express and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie as it goes after the kids' theatrical dollar this holiday season.

But game publisher THQ may be keeping a closer eye on those theatrical returns than most, as they have licensed game titles based on all three movies on shelves this year as well.

“You don't necessarily want to have three major movie properties releasing all in the same time frame,” explained Germaine Gioia, THQ's VP of licensing. “But I feel pretty good about these particular titles, because I feel they'll have three very individual lives on the game shelves.

“I think The Incredibles fan is going to be a kid absolutely demanding everything Incredibles, and SpongeBob has such a built-in fan base,” Gioia continued. “I also feel that game sales of The Polar Express are going to be driven by a parent or grandparent's love of that Christmas property.”

Of the three, The Polar Express is probably the biggest risk as a game license, in part because the 29-page book on which both the movie and the THQ title are based doesn't have many of the elements that make for great game play. And as Gioia points out, “It's a little bit more problematic for The Polar Express just because it's so holiday-centric. On Dec. 27, it's history.”

But THQ feels game sales of SpongeBob and The Incredibles should be going strong long after the holiday decorations have been put away and will get another spike when the DVDs get released.

“Those two could have staying power for the foreseeable future and then go on to ‘Greatest Hits' and have a long life at various price points for years to come,” Gioia said.

The THQ trifecta of movie-licensed games also could go a long way toward re-establishing the younger player in an industry seemingly obsessed with courting the teen, 20-something and even 30-something console gamers.

“There has been a lot of comment about the changing game demographic and the fact that kids are growing older at a younger age,” said Alison Locke, THQ's VP, value products. “But the fact remains there is a substantial kids market, and if you have three properties of this quality, it just means you own a larger share of that market.”

Much has been made of The Incredibles' “PG” rating in theaters due to higher levels of animated violence, but the THQ game version of the title carries a “T”(Teen) rating for all but the Game Boy version.

“Just like a ‘G' rating on a film almost lessens the desire for cool kids to go and see it, a more generic ‘E' (Everyone) rating on a game lessens the cool factor as well,” Gioia said. “So video game companies really do almost seek to get that ‘T' rating.”

While THQ executives are watching the theatrical numbers to gauge reorder interest among retailers, one market they're not really putting much faith in is rental.

“The rental market tends to be a little bit more aggressive with the big titles like Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and our properties like wrestling,” Locke said. “They're not as enormous with kids' properties.”

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