'L&0' locked up in cells

Mobile game eyes female demo

NBC's "Law & Order" is entering the mobile marketplace with a game designed to appeal to the franchise's female fans.

The development of "Law & Order: Celebrity Betrayal" was described as a collaborative process among mobile game publisher LimeLife, NBC Universal's mobile department and "L&O" creator and executive producer Dick Wolf and executive producer Peter Jankowski.

With the franchise in its 18th season, Wolf looked at the emerging mobile market as one he couldn't ignore.

"A mobile game on cell phones represents the most affordable type of entertainment," Wolf said. "For the gaming demographic, a phone is with them 24/7, so to turn what's already in their pocket into entertainment is irresistible."

The game will follow the formula of "L&O," with users virtually searching for clues through a celebrity crime scene in New York, questioning witnesses and bringing the case to trial. It will have contributions from automated characters from the series, including those of series stars Jesse L. Martin and Sam Waterston.

Jeremy Laws, senior vp mobile and broadband at Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group, said the network has been interested in making a mobile game for the show for the past four years but couldn't find the right fit in terms of a publisher partner. That changed, though, when it met with LimeLife, a mobile game publisher focused on women.

LimeLife CEO Kristen McDonnell said women enjoy puzzles and mystery-solving in their mobile games, and the "L&O" extension was designed with this in mind.

"We've stuck true to the core of why women watch this show," McDonnell said. "You're part of the detective squad that needs to solve the crime. It very much lends itself to the puzzle-solving that women have enjoyed across a variety of games."

For Wolf, the game also represents an opportunity to expose his show to the mobile gaming audience, which is populated by many consumers who are younger than the franchise.

"I have personally been surprised and pleased by the number of 14- and 15-year-olds that I meet who are regular watchers of the show," Wolf said. "Although this will make me sound surprisingly like a tobacco company executive, our job is to hook the generation on the brand."

LimeLife and NBC Uni's Bravo property also recently collaborated on a mobile extension for "Top Chef."

"Celebrity Betrayal" is now available on AT&T and T-Mobile and within the next couple of weeks on Verizon. It is priced at $6.99 for download-to-own on AT&T and T-Mobile and $2.99 for a recurring monthly subscription on T-Mobile. Pricing is not yet available for Verizon.