If you want a PC game series to be competitive, you have to start thinking crossover. ‘There were about 300,000 titles launched last year,’ says David Riley, director of product marketing at Infogrames. ‘In order to get a leg up and move a franchise forward, you have to do more than just run print ads.’ Infogrames is going way beyond the traditional press release and ad blitz model to support its futuristic battle franchise Independence War.
The San Jose, California-based studio has teamed up with Iwerks to produce a 3-D ride simulation movie based on the game series-a first for the Burbank-based entertainment company.
The 3-D ride-sim movie is slated for a simultaneous release with the latest game in the Independence War roster, now in development with a working title of Independence War II. Iwerks plans to run the super-sensory movie at 105 Iwerks sim-theaters in theme parks and FECs across the world, beginning in April or May 2000.
The PC franchise began with December 1997′s I-War, which sold 200,000 units in Europe, and another 100,000 units State-side with the Independence War U.S. launch in August 1998. Independence War Deluxe shipped at the end of last month.
The original game is set in 2268, with players taking on the persona of a Naval commander in a guerilla conflict with colonists fighting for independence from earth. Independence War Deluxe includes a new campaign called Defiant, which lets players operate from the perspective of the rebels instead of the Navy.
The Independence War 3-D film will really be 4-D, says John Corfino, Iwerks senior VP of production. ‘Over the past few years, since we started making 3-D ride-sim films, we’ve also had the opportunity to augment them with in-house effects like smoke or fog,’ he explains. ‘We call it 4-D.’ Cool gadgets go a long way to immerse the viewer in the 4-D experience, like Iwerks’s eight-seat electronic base that shakes, rattles and rolls ‘passengers’ as they watch the movie.
Iwerks was enamored with Independence War because, Corfino says, ‘it has an epic story line to it,’ not unlike a Hollywood film. ‘There are similar character developments and narrative aspects to the game,’ he says. Not that Infogrames is about to turn the property into a blockbuster film. ‘If you’re an interactive company, your strengths may not be those necessary for making a feature film,’ Riley says. ‘The main thing is to get a marketing vehicle in place that enhances the game and doesn’t detract from it,’ he explains. ‘With a 3-D simulation film, you want people to go, have a great time, then when they see the next title, maybe they’ll get it.’