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A Coalition Of Developers

March 17, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

Something that Verbinski said that really struck me is that when he was working on Pirates of the Caribbean, he went into a merchandising meeting with Disney and they showed him, "Here's the posters, here's the Jack Sparrow dolls, here's the game." And he's like, "Why is the game equivalent in your eyes to the posters? How is it merchandising? Why isn't it on the level of the movie, as it should be?" Do you think maybe some of the licensers maybe don't give the games their due? It's on them too, that these things don't reach full flower.

JG: There are actually structural explanations for this. Over time, they will change, as younger people come into positions at those companies. But structurally, video games are often situated under consumer licensing in big media companies.

These are the same groups who are licensing pictures on Underoos and bath towels and what have you. That probably made sense for a long period of time, particularly when the video game industry was a lot smaller than it is now. It was just another revenue stream.

I think what we've seen over the past decade in particular is a shift in demographic behavior where kids are spending more time in this medium. So yes, it means that this medium is just as important, or even moreso, to brand as the movie.

You spend a couple of hours in a movie, and if it's a really good movie, you're satisfied. But if you spend four, 10, or 20 hours in a game and it's not so good? That could devalue that entire edifice.

So yeah, I think people will get around to figuring out, sooner or later at the very least, that the brand-holders will spend a little more up-front time figuring out. And hey, Gore Verbinski is the creative force behind that, so pointing the finger at Disney and saying, "Hey, how come you guys aren't thinking about that?" I think that's kind of where it has to originate -- "Hey, I'm the creator of this brand. Why wasn't I thinking about the game?"

The last thing I want to point out is that I want to see more licensed games that are better than their licensed source. The classic examples I'm thinking of are King Kong by Ubisoft, I think was better than the movie...

JG: Chronicles of Riddick is a classic example.

And Chronicles of Riddick, there you go. That's the other one. That's what I want to see more of.

JG: You know what I say to that? More time for development. It's a huge problem. We do a lot of day-and-date movies, and a huge challenge for day-and-date movies is that by the time it gets to us, we have 12 or 13 months, or maybe 16 months. Games take more time than movies.

Movies take a long time to gestate in the script form, but they actually go pretty rapidly from greenlight to production to day-and-date release. We need more time in games to really tune and polish things in a way that I think linear media just doesn't.

Chronicles of Riddick, an example of a game that's better than its licensed source

Do you think that because of that structure of process in Hollywood makes it impractical to properly incorporate game development? Because you don't want to give someone a contract to make a game for a movie that is probably going to get made, but hasn't been greenlighted fully yet.

JG: You know what? I bet you could invest... let's use a guy like Gore Verbinski as an example, because he's somebody who, as you say, can pretty much write his own ticket, right?

So if I could pull all the puppet strings, I'd get preproduction running on the game and the movie at the same time, even before it's fully greenlit, because for not too horrible a cost, you can get a lot of design work done, and hey, they're paying those movie guys a ton of money, so they obviously have a lot of money to spend, and you could come out with a much better integrated product. If it doesn't get greenlit, well, there's some costs in the movie industry.

I've heard from developers also that one thing that would help game development is more time for brainstorming and prototyping at the front end, anyway. If you could align those two, that actually would be really beneficial.

JG: And we're also -- and this is another good thing to talk to Rich Hare about -- is really understanding the type of scope you can have for the amount of time that you have. A lot of times, we find ourselves getting excited about something, and you have more scope than you have time to do, given the short cycle. You're always looking back, saying, "Hey, if I'd spent more time polishing and fine-tuning, and less time just adding my favorite feature..."

You know, you see that so much in games. You see it so many times and you're like, "I see an idea here. I do not see an execution of the idea."

JG: I'd much rather get a review that says, "Hey, really cool, but not enough of it," than "Well, this stew has so many vegetables I don't know what the hell to name this."

This is personal taste, but I really like reductive games, games that take very few things and then keep surprising you with how they use them again and again.

JG: Just get something right. Leave somebody wanting more.

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 6

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