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By the time Sharknado 2 premieres on the Syfy Channel on July 30, the first spin-off video game will have mobile and tablet players racing to destroy shark-infested tornados threatening New York City.
After Sharknado became a cultural phenomena last summer, Syfy, owned by NBC Universal, and Asylum, the L.A. based producer, began looking for a licensing partner to produce video games — a natural brand extension with appeal to the cult film’s audience.
“It’s instantly accessible to anyone young or old,” says Syfy vp Jeff Li. “I don’t care what your cultural background is, you don’t even have to follow the story. You don’t have to read the book. It’s Sharknado and you’re both excited and terrified.”
The main problem was to create, produce and distribute a good game fast enough.
“Our one quest was to get a game out before or at the time of the second movie,” says Li. “We did not give the game developer a lot of time. Usually they want more than a year but here we said we’ve got to get a quality game out so it can ride the Sharknado 2 wave.”
It would have taken at least two years to develop a more complex product for gaming consoles, says Li, so instead they chose Majesco Entertainment as the licensee to produce what is known as a casual game in the infinite runner genre. Other games distributed by Majesco include BloodRayne, Zumba and the appropriate sister property, Jaws Unleashed.
The first game will be for the iPad, iPhone and iPod with lots of fast-paced, non-stop action that will have players racing through Manhattan bouncing off the backs of tiger sharks and wielding chainsaws from inside the Sharknado.
Majesco, a public company based in New Jersey, then brought in the appropriately named Other Ocean, a Canadian company with offices in Emeryville, Calif., which has created such games as Ultimate Mortal Kombat and Dark Void Zero.
If Sharknado: The Video Game is successful, Li says they will likely move on to another game for consoles, which require a lot more sophistication. Majesco would also have the license for that.
PHOTOS Summer TV Preview
Syfy is still in discussion with Majesco about how to price, or not price, this first game. Syfy, confirms Li, would like it released free to play initially; with players then buying additional ways to kill sharks or get involved.
Whether it is sold or given away to begin with, shortly after the premiere the game would be available for paid downloads.
There are now more than 45 licensees for all kinds of Sharknado products, and a third movie to come out sometime next year is already in the works. Li says they hope it will become their Fast & Furious, by which he means a franchise that keeps going.
“We want to establish Sharknado as a transmedia property,” says Li, “so you will want to enjoy the experience on or off the television screen and interact with it. Videogaming is a perfect medium to extend the franchise.”
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