With the line between traditional TV and online media continuing to blur, it might not be so surprising to learn that California-based prodco Wildbrain is turning to Ottawa, Canada’s innovative digital brand-builder and online gaming creator Fuel Industries to pad out its development pipeline. The pair have struck a deal that will see Wildbrain develop TV series, motion pictures, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products based on Fuel’s slate of existing properties.
For the past few years, Fuel has been hatching original kids brands alongside its core game and ad agency work. ‘We’re creating properties with more than a linear TV script in mind, whether it’s a console gaming platform, or PC, or mobile, as well as prepping them for toy and gaming opportunities right from the start,’ says Fuel CEO Mike Burns.
For example, the company has been developing girl-targeted gaming portal AllGirlArcade.com and virtual world Spark City, which has an extensive bible ready to go. Fairies and Dragons, meanwhile, is an IP started as a means of testing digital Happy Meal giveaways for McDonald’s Europe. The Happy Meal promotion covered 40 Euro markets and 11 languages and included a mini-game on a CD-ROM that corresponded with each of the four fairy figurines and four dragon trading card games.
Burns says Fuel will benefit from Wildbrain’s extensive know-how in dealing with the big-three kidnets to produce TV series. (Wildbrain has landed Yo Gabba Gabba! and Bubble Guppies on Nick Jr. and Higglytown Heroes on Disney in recent years.)
Fuel has two other properties, Sideway and Tetsurai, still in early stages of development. A console game is underway for Sideway, which is about a rebellious New York youth and his mysterious adventures in a two-dimensional world that comes to life on the city’s walls. And Tetsurai is set in an alternate industrial future full of hissing steam and clanking iron, combining television, an MMOG, an arcade fighter and a role-playing game in a dark, sci-fi package.
‘We’re really allowing Wildbrain to go to town on it and looking forward to having shared creative meetings and envisioning what these properties can grown into,’ says Burns. He adds the edgy look of both properties have potential for consumer products that would complement the design aesthetic of Wildbrain’s sister company, specialty retailer Kidrobot.
Wildbrain’s CEO Michael Polis says the two companies’ compatible personalities and tastes, as well as Fuel’s flexibility, will work well in exploring ways to bring the properties to life in multiple mediums, as opposed to immediately taking the traditional TV route.
‘We have a huge leg up given these properties have been developed for the game space,’ says Polis. He adds, ‘We bring a lot of strength in figuring out story elements and enhancing the character development.’ KC