Is there an Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) with a Hollywood connection in Ubisoft’s future plans?
The convergence of Hollywood with the video game industry is a recurring theme. Traditional studios like Paramount and Disney have expanded their game offerings. Publishers like EA, have signed up talent agents and sought out visual storytellers to partner with; striking development deals with luminaries like Spielberg and up and comers too. French publisher Ubisoft is as much a part of this process as any studio.
Arguable, Ubisoft may even be blazing part of the trail. In the past couple years, the company has made significant strides to align itself with the movie (and TV) industry. In one move, the company’s Prince of Persia game franchise is being turned into a feature film by mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In another, James Cameron, of Titanic and Terminator fame, is at work on a film called Avatar due in 2009 with Ubisoft set to release the game version.
Last March, Ubisoft acquired Hybride Technologies the special effects shop behind movies like 300 and Sin City.
Also last spring, Ubisoft bought the rights to use Tom Clancy’s (Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games etc) name for future projects. While some characters weren’t included, the deal explicitly gave them the rights to create new "video games and ancillary products including related books, movies, and merchandising products."
Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot has made no secrets of his grand design. He’s said previously that he believes, “the future of [the games industry] depends on our ability to create brands that captivate audiences and extend those brands to other forms of entertainment.”
Hollywood crossovers seem to be at the core of that vision. It would make sense therefore the purchase of Massive Entertainment earlier this week might fit into the same strategic box too. So no surprise, that theory is now floating around.
Tracking the soundbytes, last spring Guillemot did say following the Clancy licensing deal that one of the benefits it that “[Ubisoft] will be able to adapt the brand to new formats, in particular the MMO format.”
Coincidence that Massively Multiplayer Online Games is Massive’s strength? It is a skill-set Ubisoft lacked but that Activision Blizzard, with its Vivendi Games assets, has in abundance.
Speaking at BMO Capital Markets Interactive Entertainment Conference, Guillemot acknowledged that Massive’s particular strengths in the genre was part of the justification for the purchase. “They are going to help us to also get closer to the MMO space.” The goal he said is, “to go first with light MMOs, as those are now and have been extremely popular for a long time in China but are also coming in the US and Europe and are generating lots of good revenue. Our goal is first to start with light MMOs, and then in the future, we will come with RPG and RTS, also in the MMO space."
Massive already has a modern warfare real time strategy game in the critically acclaimed World in Conflict title. An expansion of that is currently in development. Will a Tom Clancy title, or some other “interactive movie” MMOG crossover be next? Could very well be.
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