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Monday, June 04, 2007

Brash Mission: Turn Films Into Hit Videogames

Whoa: a new firm, Brash Entertainment, just raised $400 million in funding. Brash's strategy is to create hit games from movies, TV shows, and music franchises. Here's Variety's coverage... GamaSutra...and here's the Wall Street Journal piece.

The Journal's Nick Wingfield writes:

    [$400 million] is a whopping sum in the games business, where attempts to create major companies are rare because of tough competition from an array of well-entrenched publishers and developers like Electronic Arts Inc., Activision Inc. and others. Brash says it has cut deals with five major Hollywood studios, licensed 40 film properties, including Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s "Saw" horror series, and is actively developing 12 games.

    Brash's bet comes as at least one big company -- EA, the world's largest games publisher -- is increasing its development of original games and lessening its dependence on Hollywood properties, which can come with high licensing fees and other restrictions.

    But Brash believes the growth of the games market has created room for a new player, particularly one with a special emphasis on translating movies into high-quality interactive entertainment. To make a mark, Brash will have to demonstrate it can consistently make top-notch games, rather than the hastily pumped-out titles that have tarnished the image of movie-based games in the eyes of consumers and Hollywood executives.

    "Across the board, they [movie-based games] haven't met industry expectations," says Mitch Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of Brash.

Here's the official Web site. The founding team includes the exec producer of '300' and Davis, who was recently CEO at Massive, an in-game advertising firm that Microsoft bought last year.

One of the biggest barriers to actually making good games from movie and TV franchises (and this won't surprise any of you who've worked either in game development or with Hollywood studios/TV networks) is that you don't get the material until far too late in the process. You don't see enough scripts, concept sketches, or rough footage. So either you wind up with a game that appears well after a movie or TV show launches, or you get a half-baked game that doesn't seem in sync with the actual movie or show.

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  • In addition to lack of access to material, the two industries (film vs. gaming) have notoriously unreliable production schedules, and both produce content at different paces. It's hard enough to stay on time and on schedule for projects in either industry.

    If the video game is finished first, then it sits on the shelf while the technology and graphics keep progressing. If the video game is finished after the film release date, then the momentum gathered by the film is dissipated by the time the video game is out. And of course no one wants to play a video game based upon a film that bombed at the box office...

    By Blogger kyle1852, at 5:46 PM  

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