It’s been about two months since the release of CSI-creator Anthony Zuiker’s cross-platform crime thriller, Level 26: Dark Origins, the first true integration of a novel with a companion web series. Finally today came the release of the Level 26 iPhone app and desktop movie through the iTunes App store, which actually marries the text and video all in one seamless experience.
Before this, readers of the 400-page book had to enter a printed code at the end of select chapters that would unlock the ‘cyber-bridge’ episodes, a process that even web video junkies found tedious. Though coining a new term with their “digi-novel,” the actual experience was still lacking any real innovation until now.
“The Level 26: Dark Origins App and iTunes Extras makes reading more entertaining than ever,” said Zuiker about the app release. “We’re delivering new levels of engagement way beyond mere white pages.”
Zuiker and his Dare to Pass team even applied for a trademark on the “digi-novel” term, which after an initial rejection from the USPTO, appears to have made it through on a supplemental approval. (The whole back-and-forth between Zuiker’s lawyers and the PTO is worth a read if you’re into that sort of thing.)
The app is the experience that Zuiker was most excited about when I interviewed him back in July at Comic-Con, even whipping out his iPod Touch to show me the demo version he had already. I got the sense that even he would have like to go out with it the same day the book hit shelves back in September. But in terms of timing of the release, it makes sense that the publisher, Dutton, would want to hold off. The $12.99 iTunes price is less than half of the book’s $26.95 list price. Each subsequent release of most entertainment properties get cheaper the further along in the cycle it gets.
While the $12.99 app gives reader the book and video elements together, it is on the pricey side for paid apps, which may keep it out of the iTunes Top Apps charts. Still, it’s way shy of cracking the “Most Expensive Apps” list either. No word yet on whether or not the subsequent digi-novels in the series (it’s a trilogy) will go straight to iTunes or whether the publisher windowing will win out.
Screenshots of the Level 26 App, developed by LA-based 23divide: