Motion Pictures Copying Video Games

October 26, 2008

Those of us hitting our thirties and forties (men mostly) have grown up with two things: video games and motion pictures. By motion pictures I mean television and movies. And by video games, I mean the stuff on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and SNES (Super NES). Back in the SNES days, I was introduced to franchises. One that always rings fondly is the Final Fantasy Series. The great thing about a franchise is that you can do any number of storyline and characters without people ever becoming disinterested. Think of any great sports franchises. The Lakers, the Raiders, the Yankees. Any of these franchises are so powerful that they attract an increasing number of viewers (families and generations) every season (year). Video games publishers look for the same thing. A franchise that they can carry forever and make money on with very, very low risk (perpetuity). Create a great franchise, and make money forever (almost). Madden is a franchise. Metal Gear Solid is a Franchise. Mario, is definitely a franchise. Halo, Guitar Hero, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tomb Raider, Pac-Main (not so much recently), Resident Evil. These are all games that will move tons of units each time they come out and their half decent. Back in the day, it could get worse, and people would just buy it. These days, you better put your best foot behind (Tomb Raider) it with the increasing number of competitors for the customer’s time (and money).

Back to motion pictures. They created the series. Indiana Jones. Friends. Seinfeld. Cheers. Sex in the City, The Simpsons, Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop. These were all one long story. And it got tiring after a while. And content as a whole improved. So motion pictures have been getting killed by video games. To look for strategy, they figured out what their best competitor was doing, and copied it. This happened a ways back with the Matrix Trilogy. Maybe a bit in between. A small story within 3 big stories (each movie). Remakes of classic IP’s such as Star Trek, Knight Rider, and Battlestar Galactica have shown motion picture companies that you don’t have to use the same actors forever. Sometimes it’s better just to start with a whole new cast. The Knight Rider IP is strong. It doesn’t hurt that David Hasselhoff looks the same as ever and is still on TV (man he’s had to have had some plastic surgery by now). So bring back the world with a new actor and a new car. And instead of advertising via commercials, it does it by product placement. TV’s getting smarter. Within the show I saw product placement for Ford, Toshiba, the Army, and Bentley.  They’re also adjusting the script to accommodate  both men and women. A romance story, with action, comedy. Something that appeals to everyone.

Games are trying to appeal to more too. There’s no surprise that the Wii is #1 after thinking about it for a little while (Miyamoto and Shiguyeri did). First with the DS, and now with the Wii, Nintendo made games as accessible as motion pictures. And it’s making a killing in the process.

The takeaway from this article for me is: the quality of the stuff you enjoy (old and new), is getting better and better everyday. It’s a good time to have fun.

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