Epic Pictures to Launch Gaming Venture With Playable Horror-Themed Trailers (Exclusive)

Epic Pictures

The Dread X Collection will include 10 teasers conceived by indie developers in a "game jam" format and will be available on Steam later in April.

Film studio Epic Pictures is set to launch a gaming venture with a series of horror and suspense-themed playable trailers from independent developers including Snowrunner Games (Soda Drinker Pro) and Mahelyk (SCP: Blackout).

The Dread X Collection is intended as a distribution platform for indie game devs, especially those affected by the coronavirus pandemic and whose work may be in flux right now. It will include 10 playable teasers that were conceived in a "game jam" format, where each developer was given a week to come up with a gaming creation and submit it in the form of a playable trailer. 

"We're very focused on the genre indie film space, but particularly over the years, we've had quite a bit of success with some film anthologies including [international distribution for] a fairly popular franchise called V/H/S," Patrick Ewald, CEO of Epic Pictures, tells The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the video game space is of growing interest. "From a creative and promotional perspective, [the project] was very intriguing for us and our distribution partners because it allowed us to put together some of the most interesting names in the horror film space and present a really great collection of stories."

Among the inspirations for the series was P.T., the playable trailer for the Silent Hills franchise. "The idea for the anthology actually came when I was interviewing indie developers, and one thing I kept hearing from a lot of them was, 'I'd really like to work on my own version of P.T. one day,'" says Ted Hentschke, editor in chief of DreadXP, the newly launched gaming site of Epic Pictures, clarifying that devs were feeling inspired to make a P.T. for their own dream project.

He emphasizes that P.T. has a legendary status in the world of gaming, because while the Silent Hills franchise was canceled amid [publisher] Konami's financial changes, P.T. came out and was much beloved. He adds that the the idea behind the P.T. part of it is in concept, not in content. "There are a lot of rip-offs of P.T. out there."

Teasing the collection, Hentschke says that games in the series include an RPG (role-playing) card game; a game in the style of a 1979 Tiger Electronics [toy manufacturer] game that you would see sold at Target; and a shooter from David Szymanski, the developer behind Dusk.

Other games in the collection will be more faithful to a traditional style of horror. "We have a really good variety of products out of a simple prompt," says Hentschke. Of the format, he notes that Epic is trying to "shake up" the game jam specification by not having it be open to the public, as jams often are, but utilizing the talents of selected developers. "I'm really hoping that this model is replicable into the future."

Some of the other participating devs include Lovely Hellplace (Dread Delusion), Torple Dook (Earl's Day Off), Strange Scaffold (An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs) and oddbreeze (Crew 167 The Grand Block Odyssey).

Epic Pictures is planning on making the collection available for $7 later this month on platforms including Steam, with a portion of each sale going to Doctors Without Borders. "It feels that any charity event that happens, at this point, should be directed toward the greatest cause," says Hentschke.

Adds Ewald, "Right now, something that helps with the health crisis is of paramount importance. The idea is to accelerate money, wherever we can, to people who need it as quickly as possible."

He goes on to say that the project has been "incredibly positive and collaborative," with devs sharing resources throughout the process. "There's a lot of creative energy flowing in every direction."

The series will be available via Steam, itch.io and Humble Bundle by the end of April, with possible console variants to be discussed at a future date.