There’s a brand new James Bond movie, Spectre, opening Nov. 6 from Sony Pictures and MGM, but for the first time in the modern Bond era there’s no new console game. Activision, which released Quantum of Solace, James Bond: Blood Stone, 007 Goldeneye and 007 Legends with previous Daniel Craig film releases, is out of the Bond games business. Instead, EON Productions and MGM Interactive have partnered with Glu Mobile to launch James Bond: World of Espionage, a narrative-based, strategy role-playing game (RPG) platform that will evolve over the coming years as a parallel universe that offers tie-ins to the next two Bond films.
The freemium game puts players in the role of commander of their very own intelligence agency as they work to take on the coveted role of “M” head of MI6 HQ in London. In addition to featuring photos from the entire cast of Spectre, the game includes over 100 real-world actors and models as agents and villains that players will interact with.
Glu Mobile CEO Niccolo de Masi explains why this new game is the only option for Bond fans for the foreseeable future in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into James Bond: World of Espionage?
This game is the product of an over two-year collaboration between Glu, MGM Interactive, and EON Productions. It’s part of the evolution of the Bond franchise from the Pierce Brosnan era to the Daniel Craig era to make the franchise more cerebral and closer to the roots of the Ian Fleming novels. This game will follow the films’ tone in that it’s a darker world that involves moral decision-making and ethical dilemmas. It’s a strategy game where you’re deploying Bond and other agents and competing with other players around the world to build the most successful MI6 spy agency.
How did you design this gameplay experience?
Like the recent films, the game’s about deploying resources to use your brain as well as brawn with on-the-ground tactics to achieve missions that your country needs. We did a lot of research with real former members of MI6 and other intelligence officers.
We believe this strategy game opens up an audience beyond male gamers. Because you’re using your brain to make decisions and not shooting, there’s more appeal to women than prior Bond games. We interviewed a number of people from MI6 and there’s much more intrigue than punching someone in the face when it comes to the intelligence field. That’s what we’re bringing to this game.
What separates this mobile experience from any previous James Bond games?
We’ve designed this photorealistic RTS/RPG game so it can be played together in short sessions. It’s not a Twitch game. It’s not a shooter.
The mobile space is a platform perfectly designed for RTS/RPGs like Clash of Clans and Game of War. This is a new take that’s modern and photorealistic. It doesn’t feature cartoony graphics or fantasy elements. It’s serious with its own story. We’ll have updates with tie-ins to Spectre and the next movie.
How did you work with the cast of Spectre?
This is the first James Bond game with its own cast. We cast 100 real-life people using help from MGM and EON to build out the cast of the game. We’ve also added in Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes and the current cast of Spectre.
We have our own universe which connects to the cast of the film and we’ve been working with MGM and EON on a more relaxed basis to develop this game, since we don’t have to follow a film release schedule. This game’s relation to the film is more like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD television show and the Marvel’s Avengers films.
Do you see this as the end of James Bond console games?
Never say never. But I do believe that we’re the first game launching of the new Bond era. It’s the first free-to-play game and mobile game. I’m not aware of a console game coming out with the new film. And there’s certainly no game coming out like this one. It’s going to have the field to itself.
Skyfall has broken all box office records and the Broccoli/Wilson family believe that’s happened because they’ve evolved the Bond franchise in the right direction for this audience and it goes back to Bond’s roots.
What opportunities does the Spectre film release open up for this game?
We’ll be in the perception stream for the movie marketing around Spectre. We can capitalize on that awareness for the movie. There will be updates to the game that will add the Spectre content between now and the end of the year.
Ultimately, there will be updates for a number of years. There will be characters and narrative that complements a movie launch. But we’re never going to be a movie game. We’re not trying to promote the movies. We’ve had a lot of creative freedom to develop this game as its own parallel universe.
Will there be advertising in movie theaters for the game attached to Spectre?
Mobile games can have 100 million installs, but movie advertising doesn’t drive that many consumers to a game. It’ll come from its standalone gameplay. Strategy gamers are very engaged and they drive very high lifetime value for games. It’s not the volume that matters, but the players who make it competitive. This genre has an intrinsically narrower audience, but the Bond IP could broaden it out and we’ve designed our game to appeal to both male and female gamers.
How are you marketing this game?
We’re focusing on digital advertising and targeting mobile gamers. As a company, we make 20% of revenue on ads and we spend 20% of revenue on ads. We are global experts on how we target advertising. We see Bond as an overlap yellow property that you can advertise in the mobile ecosystem and target both male and female gamers.
Can you talk about the online gameplay experience?
This is an online only game; and the most connected game Glu has ever built. It’s a heavily clan-based experience. We’ll be updating it weekly and listening to player feedback on how the experience evolves when it comes to things like clan engagement and their own experiences with the game.
We could potentially have a competition and the winners could make it into the game as an official character. This is the kind of experience we want for the next generation of Bond gamers. And we’ll listen to what our players want.
Why not go the direction of a mobile shooter?
We’re expecting a lot more people to play the game by virtue of the Bond IP than otherwise. Some people will be disappointed that it’s not a shooter, but the game is reflecting the modern day Bond franchise. It’s not about shooting someone in the head.
The RTS/RPG genre is more effective in mobile than shooters, and it fits with the IP direction. It was a brave editorial decision when they cast Daniel Craig as the new Bond, but that risk paid off. There’s a lot of enthusiasm around us doing this in the gaming space. We’re in this for the long haul. It’ll take some time for people to realize where Bond and gaming is today.