Making Movie Game Tie-Ins Work

Making Movie Game Tie-Ins Work

Video games and Hollywood have always been the Woody Allen and Soon-Yi of the entertainment world. They’re together forever, but the fit has always been an odd one – and a little creepy at times.

The amount of ink wasted bemoaning the sheer volume of crappy movie-based games is copious – and I promise this isn’t more of the same. In fact, for the first time games and movies may have found a good way to co-exist.

Word came out this week from TG Daily that when Disney releases the Blu-ray version of Toy Story 3, it will include the game tie-in with the film.

It’s one of those moves that is so obvious once it happens, you begin to wonder why others haven’t take advantage of this strategy before. Sure, let movie-based games have a life of their own when the film is in theaters. But why not give them a second bite at the apple when the DVD comes out as well, instead of wasting away in deep discount bins?

Publishers are just starting to figure out that there are profits to be mined in their back catalog. Historically, of course, once a game ran its life at retail (a cycle that has gotten shorter and shorter in the last 8-10 years), it was forgotten from a corporate sales perspective.

The launch of GameTap slapped the industry across the face – and showed them that just as films had many lives after their initial theater run (pay-per-view, home video, initial network rights, syndicated network rights, etc.), so too could games.

Services like Good Old Games and Xbox Live Arcade further give publishers a way to capitalize on old titles, but because monetizing those titles hasn’t been an immediate cash bonanza, not a lot of publishers have looked for other opportunities.

Disney, though, could be showing them the way – assuming this report is accurate. But heck, even if by some chance it’s not, the idea is still a good one.

Movie-based games don’t have long tails. They get an initial sales pop when interest is high in the movie. Then, after a few months of horrid sales, they might see a slight bump when the DVD comes out, but it’s nothing like the first. By working with studios to combine the game with the film, the studios get to charge a premium, publishers see a real surge in game sales (yes at a lower price, but I’m willing to bet the overall revenue and profits would still be higher) and consumers get another added bonus.

Disney, of course, made Toy Story 3 – the film and the game – making the integration an easy one. Think any publisher is willing to endure the headaches of dealing with a studio to follow their lead?

About Chris Morris
Chris Morris has covered video games for 15+ years for outlets including CNN, Variety, CNBC, Yahoo! and Official Xbox Magazine. He is a frequent on-air authority for national news outlets and has been referred to as “one of the most game-savvy reporters in the mainstream media.”


  1. Sorry, but did I miss out something at the site there?
    Because all it said was they’re releasing the Toy Story 3 game with the complete Toy Story 1 movie?? Not Toy Story 3 film AND game.
    I don’t see much in a connection of a tie-in here.

    What you’ve suggested sounds like a sound and logical business model on paper. But how do you justify for a movie game tie-ins that isn’t really a great game, like Ironman. People who have not actually gamed before as least not these kinda movie game tie-ins are going to be a little turned off if the game doesn’t work out for them.

    I also don’t hope that the developers would make gameplay too simple to the point of boring for other players, just to cater to the movie-going group of players. Or even some developers/publishers might even devote less time and effort into a game, thinking that it will still earn a premium, whether the custoemrs [gamers or not] plays the game or not.

    But, yes movie-games integration would be a good way to go.

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