Former THQ EVP of core games Danny Bilson has said he has several transmedia game ideas in the works spanning the sci-fi, horror and fantasy genres.
Speaking with VG247's Dave Cook after his closing keynote at Game Horizon today, Bilson said his plan is to produce a game alongside three movies in tandem under one roof at the same production company. To Bilson, this will alleviate the disconnect between quality and scope, such as with video game/move tie-ins.
"Our initial venture is to develop original IP, and multiples of them," Bilson told VG247. "We don't intend to go out with just one game. We intend to go out with two or three, and hopefully one of them will catch fire. Hopefully they'll all be respected for their quality and then if one works we intend to continue extending the stories into more media on that IP.
"That is the plan and that's what I'm really excited about. Hopefully we'll be in production really soon. I can tell you that the stories are all science-fiction, fantasy and horror. We're not trying to do a love story or something 'reality', because it has to really work in the gaming space – not to say that we couldn't with that kind of narrative development – but we're not going to."
" I can tell you that the stories are all science-fiction, fantasy and horror. We’re not trying to do a love story or something ‘reality’, because it has to really work in the gaming space."
Bilson said the movie will come first and the game will run in tandem, so what happens in the game will inform the plot of the next movie. It's possible that each movie could open with a recap sequence which would serve to get the viewers up to speed on the previous arc which occurred in the game.
Earlier today he said during his keynote it's been nearly impossible to "move the story from linear to interactive-ish-linear and back to linear," due to the "huge wall between the film guys and the game guys."
"Games haven't translated very well [onto or from the big screen] because in the old days it was this concept of 'Watch the movie, play the game'," Bilson explained to VG247.
"There were no real surprises. One of the biggest problems was that there wasn't enough time for game development to get really great, because the movie would be green-lit and then out a year later, but you can't make the game until the movie's green-lit.
"Then you don't have enough time to make a really triple-a experience. Now, there may have been some exceptions along the way I'm forgetting about, but by and large the movie game died because we couldn't keep up with their production pace or quality. But then we were also slipstreaming their marketing, we weren't creating out own unique space with those games.
"What I'm proposing is that all of this becomes one thing."
All of this "becoming one thing," means building all aspects of the projects using the same team for each medium.
"Basically it's all the same project, and your flowing story – from film through to game, and back to the film – is a progressive narrative," he said. "You're not ever repeating anything because everything's additive. If we were to add a digital comic in it would fit into the story and would never be something you've already seen. That's old school and done.
"There's always a barrier between the pieces – be it ego, 'business' or vision. That's why I'm calling it something beyond transmedia. I'm calling it 'connected transmedia because the parts really are connected. Now the fear is people will say, 'What if you don't play the games and you just want to watch the movie?'
“Games haven’t translated very well [onto or from the big screen] because in the old days it was this concept of ‘Watch the movie, play the game’. There were no real surprises."
"We will make that OK, because what we may do on the second movie is a recap shot on film of the key story elements of what the gamers would have played, so that everybody's in sync. If you do this as a rule there's a danger of making the game fiction irrelevant because people say, 'Oh it's OK to just watch the movie'.
"I think it needs to be at least semi-essential to play the game to do something new and really cool."
Bilson also said the films will be made at a price-point to where each is close breaking even, because each will be low budget. Plus, with on-demand rights, foreign rights and "a certain amount of investment," the projects would be low-risk films, and if "any good," will make money.
"The games have a little bit of risk there, but we're talking about a really big game in the mobile space," he said. "What could that cost? Maybe a million and a half to launch, maybe less as we iterate and go on. So I'm coming from $80 million investments man, if I'm looking at $3-4 million to make a game and a movie, that's low-risk to me."
While Bilson wouldn't be swayed on the name of the new IP or formats, note that he did at least drop the word "mobile" in there. Bilson has also brought on his co-writing partner from The Rocketter, Paul De Meo, as head writer. The plan is also to expand the projects' fiction further with toys, board games, comics and more.
As noted earlier, publishing partners will be announced at a later date.