With Madefire, digital comic book readers have a chance to delve into stories like never before. In addition to standard comics and graphic novels, Madefire offers a series of titles that use its signature Motion Books. These comics are enhanced with animations, music and sound in addition to letting users pan around certain scenes. It’s almost like a cross between an animated movie and a comic book with a little bit of a game-like interaction added as users tap through a motion comic. Furthermore, Madefire’s motion comics have been brought to the Samsung Gear VR, making it the first comic book platform to step into virtual reality with 3D scenes, and the company said that will support additional VR headsets in the future.
All taken together, Madefire is becoming the perfect platform for cross media comic book titles, particularly those from video game IPs—which was underscored by the recent hiring of Jon Middleton, who became Madefire’s chief revenue officer in July. Middleton is a longtime video game industry veteran who has handled everything from development to in-game advertising. Now he is working to broaden the relationship between the video game industry and Madefire by bringing more IPs on board with the motion comics platform.
There is a deep connection between video game audiences and comic books, evidenced by how 2K Games owns an in-house comic book publisher Double Take and how Wargaming partnered with Dark Horse Comics to create a comic book series based on World of Tanks. Media giant Warner Bros. owns DC Comics, which publishes the Injustice: Gods Among Us series to complement the hit fighting game that launched its sequel in May. Telltale Games hit new heights by making adventure titles based on comic book IPs like The Walking Dead, Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy and the list goes on.
Injustice has motion comics on Madefire, but another series that has gotten some serious attention in recent months is Overwatch, based on the best-selling first-person shooter from Blizzard entertainment. Although fans can read the standard comics almost anywhere physically or digitally to learn more about the game world, they can turn to Madefire for one that is fully enhanced through motion comics.
AListDaily sat down with Middleton to talk in-depth about Madefire’s Motion Books, the relationship between games and comics, and how Overwatch could help attract more video game IPs to the platform.
What prompted the move from the video game industry to comics?
I don’t look at the work I do as being based in two different industries. The world of entertainment is converging and you’re seeing media crossing over into adjacent industries every day. It’s simply a natural extension for me. Comics and games have always been a closely-knit fandom and the industries work in a not too dissimilar way. In the past, I’ve worked across film, TV and music. For me, comics and games are culturally very similar.
That being said, I’ve watched for some time as Madefire tackled the challenge of bringing comics into the digital age with innovative tech and original IP and strongly believed that I could add value to the brand through strategic partnerships. The potential for comics to thrive on digital platforms has yet to be realized. It’s not simply alternative distribution, we believe digital can and should offer so much more to the consumer. It needs to make a case to exist in such a format and offer a totally different experience to what has come before.
There appear to be a lot of video game IPs getting involved with comic books. What is the relationship between games and comics?
I think it’s a symbiotic relationship. There’s a lot of crossover, and popularity on comics has never been higher, thanks in part to the high quality of comic book movies and TV currently being delivered to audiences. These days, it’s a safe bet to assume that if you love comics you also love games. This fact hasn’t been lost on the gaming publishers and bringing their product to comics allows them to build deeper storytelling into their IP creation arc and forge a closer relationship with the fans by giving their communities more of what they love. In turn, the comic book world gets to expose its art form to a huge gaming audience and open up obvious new revenue streams.
How do digital comics in particular and Madefire’s platform strengthen that relationship?
Madefire has set out to build the definitive storytelling platform for the new millennia. Our Motion Books add animation and sound into the experience, and the end result is something very unique and not easily replicated elsewhere. It’s more than a great read, it’s a new way to consume media, and our audience loves it. We’ve seen impressive success with our gaming partners, and Blizzard in particular has done a superb job enriching the Overwatch story with comics and Motion Books which adds depth and flavor to the universe.
Why focus on video game IPs specifically compared to media such as movies, television, books etc.?
That’s a great question and to be clear, we’re working on all manner of content partnerships. We’ve got some very cool projects across film, TV, books—even music, and we’re truly excited to be working with some of the most prestigious names in pop culture. Madefire’s platform is an ideal fit with gaming communities, and we’ve had some very positive meetings, exploring the use of our original IP in gaming and partnering with developers and publishers to make it happen. A couple of decades in the gaming industry allows me to explore a lot of interesting avenues for Madefire in this space, resulting in an invigorated focus towards gaming.
What led to Overwatch being featured on the Madefire platform and do the comics cross over with game releases and events?
Blizzard is really doing a phenomenal job in expanding the Overwatch universe and delivering great content to the community. Beyond delivering a world class successful new IP—no easy feat in today’s gaming climate—they’ve embraced story as a core element of the game. The comics, Motion Books and animated shorts released post launch of the game were anything but an afterthought, and they were delivered with intelligence and passion for the franchise. It’s part of their ongoing effort to build the fiction and universe of Overwatch and it has worked.
It’s helped that they’ve hired talented staff with a long history in comics to create the books and bring the universe to life. Our relationship with Blizzard has certainly been a high point for Madefire and we look forward to continuing to work with them for many years ahead.
How have fans been reacting to the Overwatch motion comic?
In the case of Overwatch, fans are devouring the books as fast as we can deliver them. It’s incredible to track and witness first-hand the passion and enthusiasm the community has for this series. They love the story Blizzard is telling and watching the story unfold. It’s also exciting to see the overwhelmingly positive feedback for Madefire and our platform. We’re seeing the community embrace our Motion Book concept and one of the coolest things we have stumbled upon are fans recording their own voiceovers for Motion Books and releasing them on social media as videos. It validates the hard work we’re doing and shows we are on the right track. Best of all, it’s all grass roots activity, led by the fans themselves. Madefire supply the tools to make it happen and the community runs with the idea.
Does Overwatch make it easier to bring other video game IPs on board with Madefire?
Sure! It’s always a pleasure working with a company like Blizzard. They make some of the finest software in the world and wrote the book on being a leader in building gamer communities. It certainly helps lend credibility when you have proven success with a partner. Other game developers are looking at using our platform in their own unique ways. I can’t share more at this point, but suffice to say, there will be more to come. Madefire’s Motion Books and gamers are match made in heaven.
In addition to bringing more video game IPs on board, what is the key to continuing Madefire’s growth as a platform?
From a tech perspective, we’re investing a lot of time and energy into expanding the platform to VR and AR. It’s an exciting area of growth and the community are responding well to what we’re delivering so far. In addition, we continue to work with leading partners in media as third party creative companies, but our original IP catalog is the growth path forward.
Madefire was founded to tell stories in a new and unique way, delivering a seamless and unique experience not easily replicated on other platforms. Our Motion Book tools, app, marketplace and back-end technology were built specifically to deliver myths and heroes to the digital generation and we’re excited to where the future is taking us. We have lots of wide-open room to grow; it’s going to be an exciting ride!