Universal Brand Development, a business segment of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and part of NBCUniversal, is collaborating with Episode—a mobile storytelling platform created by Pocket Gems—to target female audiences with the game Pitch Perfect In Deep Treble. The branded story experience is leading a marketing push for the Dec. 22 Pitch Perfect 3 theatrical release.
Heidy Vargas, games and digital products manager at Universal Brand Development, endorses the pairing of Episode and Pitch Perfect as a natural fit for what they found resonates well with young females. The intention is for the story-based gameplay to allow players to create their own avatar and feel like they are actively living and interacting with the movie characters.
“Within Universal Brand Development we aim to expand the audience experience beyond theaters and TV screens. Specifically with games, we aim to create hours of additional content and experiences that will hopefully appeal to fans of each unique property,” Vargas said. “We understand audiences choose to play in many different ways and that allows us to get creative and find game styles that work across a variety of demographics.”
The Pitch Perfect franchise has earned over $400 million at the global box office, targeting a large female demographic. The film franchise stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins.
“We view Episode as separate from the world of video games,” Summer Watson, vice president of business operations at Episode told AListDaily.
The game company is comprised of former film and television writers and creators, which has also helped secure other Hollywood licenses like Pretty Little Liars and Mean Girls. Episode is designed to be played in either short bite-sized moments or long binges, and stories are made up of several episodes that can have multiple seasons.
Watson also explained that the vast majority of Episode’s audience are women, and over 4.4 billion episodes have been viewed on it. The Episode community is comprised of over 9 million users who have created over 73,000 custom stories.
According to a 2017 study by Pew Research, 75 percent of women own a smartphone. Research firm Newzoo has estimated that there are over 70 million female gamers playing on smart devices in the US alone.
“Given that women are some of our most active players for mobile games, we see potential in creating more mobile games for female-driven movies,” said Vargas. “Women want to see themselves represented in the games they play. Audiences seek to identify with the characters they interact with, and I think our franchises are giving us some really cool, strong, aspirational female leads.”
When it comes to the platform Episode has created, Watson said original mobile stories can build awareness around returning franchises that younger people might not be as familiar with, and can reignite interest in franchises they may have forgotten about.
“Mobile can give entertainment a new life through our platform and, because of how we develop stories, Episode can expand a franchise by releasing consecutive seasons, like with our Mean Girls or Pretty Little Liars stories,” Watson added.
While this is Universal’s first partnership with Episode, it won’t be the last. Before working on this Pitch Perfect game, Episode worked with singer Demi Lovato for her interactive story Path to Fame.
Universal Brand Development core businesses include consumer products, games and digital platforms, and live entertainment based on IP from Universal Pictures, Illumination, DreamWorks Animation, and NBCUniversal cable and television.