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While many game publishers are exiting the Hollywood licensing game, SEE Virtual Worlds and SEE Games recently announced a full slate of Hollywood IPs, both new and old, that they’re developing as free-to-play online game experiences. Titles like Men In Black 3, Total Recall(2012) and Asterix along with older film properties like War of the Worlds (2005) and Waterworld will be translated into online games. J. David Riva, vice president & director of licensing and Josh Gordon, vice president of development and productionat SEE Virtual Worlds and SEE Games talk about the role Hollywood IP plays in the rapidly expanding online gaming space in this exclusive interview.
How are you working with Hollywood creatives (directors, producers) on your movie licenses?
SEE generally seeks individuals that worked on the original IP to utilize as direct consultants to the product being produced. This is following completion of a straight license agreement with the studio. In the past these have been directors, production designers or writers.
Will these virtual worlds feature actors’ likenesses and/or voices from the films?
In most cases, our games are more about the theme of the experience rather than any one particular person. We have employed many of the actors in the past for in-product voiceovers.
How will these experiences expand beyond the films?
A gaming experience is very different from a movie in that it’s interactive. This provides players the ability to interact and to a certain extent control the experience. Also, depending on the property, we will often expand on the storyline with new situations or story points, e.g., sequel or prequel scenes.
What type of gameplay are you developing for these worlds?
The gameplay is very specific and depends heavily on the IP. For example, with Asterix we will focus on adventure, and with Total Recall our focus will be on action but with lighter adventure elements. In general, we take the core themes from the IP and match them to appropriate gameplay.
Will they mirror an MMO experience?
Some will be more traditional MMO style games, while others will be closer to action, resource management or adventure games – but all will contain core MMO experiences.
What will the business model be for these games?
Yes, all our games will be F2P (free-to-play) with micro-transactions.
What goes into your decision-making to license older Hollywood properties like Waterworld and War of the Worlds?
Our interest in any title first comes from our internal team. We then do extensive market research before we move forward. We feel that the best way to serve our customers is to offer a variety of exciting titles.
In the past we’ve seen many older Hollywood IPs like Scarface, The Godfather, Jaws and The Great Escape brought back in video game form. What are the advantages of an online world versus a console game?In today’s online gaming space, users expect almost constant and immediate updates and the proper attention of developers to monitor game play and enhance experiences users enjoy. Consoles also still skew toward a younger market while the PC market tends to trend a bit older. Another difference can be seen in the uptake of F2P micro-transactions — while they are becoming commonplace on the PC, they have barely impacted the console market.
More and more companies like THQ, EA, Activision and others are getting out of the Hollywood movie licensing business on the console side. Why do you think that is? And is online the way to go?
The audience for games, in general, is far more demanding then ever before. But the love of Hollywood IP remains the same. SEE seeks to combine the best possible platform with these beloved titles to make the perfect mix of recognition and great gameplay.
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