Video games have often seen great promotion through spectacular trailers that some might say are movie quality. Sometimes a franchise will actually be turned into a movie or television series. However, there are some games that take cross-media to all-new heights, and these are the ones doing it this year.
There are a large number of Ubisoft games that translate well to film, but the most prominent is the Assassin’s Creed series, which has a big-budget movie starring Michael Fassbender premiering in December. However, it won’t be the first time Assassin’s Creed has been translated to other media. Assassin’s Creed: Lineage, a web series comprised of three live-action shorts, released in 2009. They followed the exploits of Giovanni Auditore, the father of Ezio–the series’ most popular character to date–and likely helped pave the way for the full movie to be made. In 2011, Ezio’s fate was detailed in an animated short called Assassin’s Creed: Embers, which was created and produced by Ubiworkshop to expand the game’s world and help promote a special editions of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Ubisoft clearly learned a big lesson from those Assassin’s Creed promotions, and applied them to Tom Clancy’s The Division. The online multiplayer game, where players try to help (or at least survive) in quarantined areas of New York City in the wake of a biological attack, saw a variety of promotions leading up to its launch. One of the least expected was a short live-action film called The Division: Agent Origins, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video. It tells the stories four agents who are called to action amidst New York’s decline.
The movie seemed to help do the trick, as The Division ended up selling more copies in its first 24-hours than any other game in Ubisoft’s history.
Every Blizzard fan knows that the developer is as good at producing cinematic video as it is at making video games. However, Pixar and Dreamworks might actually have something to be worried about with the series of Overwatch animated shorts, created as a lead-in to the game’s launch in May.
The first episode, which premiered earlier this week, tells the story of a genetically engineered ape named Winston (who also happens to be a brilliant scientist, inventor, and superhero), who longs for the old days of heroism. Later episodes will presumably focus on other heroes as they answer the call-to-action, and help build up the desire to be part of this world.
Gearbox Software is taking a decidedly unique approach with its sci-fi action game, Battleborn. Similar to episodic games made by Telltale Games (The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones), Battleborn‘s story is structured similarly to television shows. There’s an overarching plot comprised of eight episodes (and a prologue), each telling a self-contained story. In fact, the developer describes the game’s launch on May 3rd as the start of the first season. The trick is, the dialogue in each episode changes according to which of the 25 different characters you use, and reveals a bit more of the bigger picture. So, replaying an episode is never quite the same. Plus, Gearbox will be adding additional heroes and stories after the game’s launch, so players shouldn’t worry about getting bored with reruns.
Additionally, there’s a Battleborn motion comic that details the events leading up to the fight for Solus, the last star in the universe.
Ratchet and Clank
We end up with an interesting “chicken or the egg” scenario when it comes to the upcoming Ratchet and Clank movie and game. The original game released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002, which is the inspiration for the movie that premieres on April 29th. The movie then inspired Insomniac Games to remake the original, but in a “re-imagined” way that matches how the movie plays out. That might seem a little dizzying, but kind of fitting for the sci-fi action comedy franchise.
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds seems almost prophetic in a way. Angry Birds are everywhere. On smartphones, computers, gaming consoles, and they even have a cereal brand. The Angry Birds franchise began airing the ongoing battle between the birds and pigs on an animated TV show years ago, but the biggest release will certainly be the Angry Birds movie coming to theaters on May 20th.
Although the puzzle game series already has millions of fans worldwide, and its sequel released last summer, the premiere of a family friendly movie is almost certain to keep the franchise’s momentum going for the foreseeable future. As a way to help boost box office numbers, there’s an online trailer created in partnership with AMC Theatres to encourage audiences to go out and see the movie instead of waiting for it to come to home video.
It’s no secret that Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U did not do well commercially or critically, which led Sega to rethink its brand strategy. However, the game launched alongside the Sonic Boom animated TV series on Cartoon Network, which turned out to be a fantastic show. Although it’s not the first time Sonic the Hedgehog has had a television show, this one helped the blue speedster resurge with a newfound success on mobile by introducing Sonic and his friends to a new generation of gamers. So, just as it seemed as though the iconic character was falling down, it picked up an extra life thanks to television.
The Skylanders series is crediting for starting the trend of toys-to-life games like Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions, and the Nintendo Amiibo collection of figures. It has remained a large part of Activision’s annual release line-up for five years, with the most recent game being last fall’s Skylanders Superchargers. And although the franchise is already incredibly popular with kids, and it’s bound to grow even further with the upcoming television series, Skylanders Academy.
The show was revealed last year with the announcement of Activision Blizzard Studios–a division dedicated to bringing the publisher’s large library of popular games to other media. Although not much has been revealed about the show since announcement, it’s being headed by Futurama writer Eric Rogers and stars Justin Long as the voice of Spyro the Dragon, Ashley Tisdale as Stealth Elm and comedian Norm McDonald, as Glumshanks. It’s also expected to premiere later this year, so more news should be coming soon.
One thing is for sure: once kids get hooked on the show and the game, parents should plan on picking up a boatload of Skylanders toys.