Though many video games are based on movie or TV properties these days, it’s not always easy to transfer the charisma and antics of big-screen personalities into the digital realm.
But Manchester, England-based indie game developer Warthog is fostering a more synergistic approach that gets closer to the creative source. The company recently signed a co-publishing deal with Warner Bros. Consumer Products for a game spin-off of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, with both film and game coming out in November.
Warthog director of business development Eric Elms says the deal gives the studio an unprecedented amount of access to the people behind the film during its production, which will make the characters more true to life. ‘Anytime something happens, we get the information passed to us right away,’ he says. ‘We become almost another arm of Warner Bros., which is better for us. We’re very much in the loop.’ It also means a faster turnaround on approvals because they come directly from the IP owner, Elms adds.
Warthog has worked with Warner Bros. in the past on titles like 2001′s Tiny Toons – Plucky’s Big Adventure for the Sony PlayStation, and will be releasing an Animaniacs game sometime in the next six months with German game publisher Swing. But the co-publishing agreement is a first for both Warthog and WBCP
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, will oversee the game’s development, production, marketing and distribution. Playing as either Bugs or Daffy, gamers can embark on a worldwide scavenger hunt through themed levels based on the film’s wild locations, picking up gizmos and clues in their search for the Blue Monkey Diamond.
Now one of the largest independent game developers in Europe and the U.S., Warthog was formed in 1997 when the nucleus of a development team from EA’s defunct northern England office – Paul Hughes, Nick Elms and Phil Mellor – joined forces with entrepreneurs Ashley Hall and Eric Elms. Headquartered in Manchester, the studio staff has since grown to more than 250 people, with additional offices in Sweden and Texas. Members of the team hail from game companies including Electronic Arts, Sony and Warner Interactive, and their combined experience covers more than 1,500 titles across all major platforms, markets and genres.
Starlancer, the company’s first project in April 2000, topped the PC charts in Germany and hit number four in the U.K. ‘Creativity is nurtured within the company, and a culture of fun and achievement ensures this is translated into our games,’ says Warthog spokesperson Andrew Gething. ‘Because of this, Warthog enjoys one of the highest staff retention rates within the industry.’