One of my favorite nominees in the 2010 Streamy Awards wasn’t produced by any of the entities you’d usually associate with the production of web series. Assassin’s Creed: Lineage didn’t come from a traditional television network, major motion picture studio, online video production company, or independent content creator, but was the original creation of a French video game publisher.
Ubisoft developed Lineage as a prequel to, and marketing tool for its highly anticipated release of the video game title Assassin’s Creed II. With the help of their newly acquired motion graphics house, Hybride, Ubisoft created a three-part mini-series that, in terms of production quality and entertainment, rivals most theatrical releases. Beautiful, 300–like computer generated environments make for an alluring recreation of Renaissance Italy, in which live actors portray a tale of violence and deception.
Assassin’s Creed: Lineage racked up over 1 million views on YouTube alone and gained even more exposure through cable broadcasts on Spike TV. The web-series-as-a-marketing-device-for-video-games method appears to have been a success, and other video game publishers are taking note.
Capcom recently announced it will create an eight-part, online series to promote the Fall release of its titles Dead Rising 2 and the Xbox only Dead Rising 2: Case Zero. Capcom’s global head of development (and Mega Man creator), Keiji Inafune will co-write and direct the series. Dubbed Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun, the live action adventure takes place within the Dead Rising universe, and follows “the story of two brothers trying to escape the zombie outbreak of Japan, with zombie references being sprinkled in from zombie films of the 60’s and 70’s.”
Expect to see a lot more announcements akin to this one in the near future. As video game publishers figure out ways to market their wares to both established and new audiences, more will turn to web series as a viable way to push their products on connected consumers. Gamers are tech-savvy individuals who already spend vast amounts of time looking at brightly lit screens. Why not create high production value entertainment products for those screens?
It’s also comparatively easy for video game publishers to create peripheral or companion entertainment products for their titles. When all the artwork, backstory, and characters have already been established for the video game, it’s just a matter of repurposing those elements to craft a compelling story. It’s also a matter of allocating marginal additional resources to make it happen, but when you’re part of a $60 billion worldwide entertainment industry, cash shouldn’t be too hard to come by.