Video games can now cost $20 million and up to produce. Such high production costs raise the risk for bringing new games to market and have spawned a search for ways to extend a game’s IP via cross marketing in other media – notably books, merchandise and film. Though long familiar to Hollywood moguls, this approach is now being pioneered by Electronic Arts in the gamer world.
One example where this is being used in a new game due out in Fall 2008 called Dead Space. A series of 6 graphic novels (or comic books) will be used as a prequel to the game to provide users with background information. They will be offered for sale at $2.99 each, though a premium edition of the first issue with special cover art will be sold at a higher price point. As reported on Kotaku, the series will be created by Image Comics with Ben Templesmith and Antony Johnston. There’s even a book trailer that’s been created for the series.
This is somewhat the reverse of the journey made by Marvel Comics a few years ago, as chronicled in the New York Times. Marvel’s comic books sales had slowed and the company almost went out of business. But, like one of the super heroes it markets, the struggling publisher morphed into a Hollywood entertainment power with its own studio and licensing business. Marvel has combined making its own super hero movies (where it can reap more of the rewards) with innovative financing (using its comic book IP as collateral) to emerge as a successful, profitable moviemaker.
Book to movie deals are continuing at a brisk pace, as evidenced by the regular reports in Publishers Weekly and industry sites such as Freelance Writing. Major book publishers are also getting into the movie game. This past fall, HarperCollins, a division of News Corp., announced a partnership with Sharp Independent to develop movies based on HarperCollins books. These new collaborations, according to an article by Rachael Donadio, give publishers greater participation in movie profits (if there are any) and allow authors to have more say in the selection of screenwriters, directors and actors. The closer ties with Hollywood may eventually change the nature of literary fiction as writers realize they may need to structure their stories for multiple mediums.
Entertainment IP in the hgh stakes world of big media wants to be everywhere. Look for lots more cross media collaborations (some might say contamination); and look for tomorrow’s most successful artists among those who are able to cross media divides and become multiple media “multi-talents.”
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