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Transmedia gaming – thinking from a different place

Today in-console game marketing seems dead and buried. A situation particularly disappointing for fans of the medium Barack Obama made famous during his election campaign.

So why did the medium fail? Advertising revenues are a drop in the ocean for games publishers compared to their main revenue – the £40 they get for selling each of the games. The last thing they felt they could do is risk the ire of their fanbase by selling out to advertisers that might spoil the experience.

Simply put the medium didn’t need advertising…

… so it priced itself out of the market. On a cost per impact basis, dynamic in-game was some of the most expensive display advertising on any media.

That might be all about to change.

This week, Syfy channel announced they had started production on “Defiance”- a show with a fascinating difference. It is being produced in conjunction with a new video game, also called “Defiance”.
The difference here is that the game is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG – think “Call of Duty meets World of Warcraft”) and the narrative and universe will be intertwined with and mutually affect that of the TV show.

The game will evolve dynamically as the story of the TV show progresses and vice versa.

Syfy understands the need to make its content commercially attractive and the financial success of the show will come down to whether or not brands buy into it.
• Syfy are inviting brands to get involved with the TV show early in the production process.
• The show is set in the near future, so modern day brands can play a sensible role in the narrative.

This is a truly transmedia project where the layers of the narrative are built up not only between multiple media channels, but where people can engage in different ways with the plot and actually have an effect on how it evolves.

As a multiplayer game, there is also a very natural social element to the game which will ensure a huge amount of online buzz as new gameplay element get revealed in the context of the TV show.

This Project represents exciting opportunities for brands to build awareness, relevance and engagement with a highly social affluent young male audience – all in one vehicle. It could be the shot in the arm gaming needs to drive paid for advertising without alienating their players.

I for one hope that it is.

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