Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title, is backing a new online game being created by the UK producers of Kate Modern. The game, which will launch in November, claims to blur the lines between film and gaming.
Tom Thirlwall, co-founder of We R Interactive, tells me: “We’re bringing together the worlds of the movies and online play.”
Investing with Fellner are ITV’s new commercial head Fru Hazlitt and Peter Mead, co-founder of one of London’s most respected ad agencies, Abbott Mead Vickers.
Founders include Thirlwall, CEO of Bigballs Films (Kate Modern), and ex-Eidos executive David Rose (Hitman). Other executives have been drawn from ITV and Ingenious Media.
Console games such as Red Dead Redemption or Bioshock increasingly use stories as part of the shoot ‘em up action. These games can cost $50 million each to produce over a three year period. We R Interctive’s new game will cost less than that because its makers plan to keep improving it over time. Rather than pay up to $60 upfront in a gaming store, online players will fund the game’s development using micro-payments. Players will play the game through social networking sites such as Facebook. Gamers must constantly upgrade if they’re to stay playing the game (groan, tell me about it. I’m losing track of the map-pack upgrades my teenagers keep pestering me for while playing Modern Warfare 2).
Thirlwall tells me, “We caught Eric’s eye one year ago. We showed him the demo, which shows how you can control live-action for the first time. The technology we’ve pioneered means that we can tell an emotional, character-driven story.”
Fellner says that he’s putting some seed money into this undisclosed game as a minority investor. It has nothing to do with his co-running Working Title with Tim Bevan.
“This kind of ground-breaking fusion of online video game and narrative storytelling is where gaming is going at the moment,” he tells me.