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The State of Transmedia Branding

Transmedia branding is taking a larger and larger role in companies’ efforts to deliver a rich and engaging brand experience. In this article I discuss some recent notable efforts of companies to extend their brands to other media.

Jasper W, Blogger

May 3, 2011

7 Min Read

Transmedia branding is taking a larger and larger role in companies’ efforts to deliver a rich and engaging brand experience. In this article I discuss some recent notable efforts of companies to extend their brands to other media. Feel free to share your transmedia news!

Today, videogame powerhouse Ubisoft announced its new Motion Pictures division. This division will focus on producing movies based on Ubisoft’s world famous videogame brands. This follows after the success of the blockbuster movie based on its Prince of Persia brand last summer. Ubisoft Motion Pictures will likely leverage its 2007 initiated sister division of Digital Arts and the 2008 acquisition of visual effects house Hybrid Technologies. Obviously, these are no small investments and this new direction shows how companies are more and more appreciating the value of positioning their brands through multiple media. The other way around, major American film studio The Weinstein Company launched the TWC games division a month ago. This division will publish videogames based on its movie brands for mobile, social and console platforms. As Bob Weinstein himself stated; “… With all of the digital platforms, there are so many opportunities to broaden our audience with compelling, high quality, cost-efficient, video game entertainment.” This trend of companies turning to games is by many expected to have a much broader impact in the next decade. In this vein, technology research and Advisory firm Gartner listed gamification as the major focus of innovation management processes in the coming years.

Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS

These announcements promise a lot of interesting entertainment in the years to come. But let’s turn to what is actually happening at the entertainment markets as we speak. According to vgchartz.com sales estimates, the best selling ‘videogame’ in Japan last week was Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS. This videogame comes with a wireless keyboard to teach typing as you play. Although such typing games are not new to the Japanese audience, it is still notable that this one is such a success. A game like this is a good example of making education fun.

Zumba Fitness for the Nintendo Wii

Meanwhile in the west, choreography related brands are getting a firm grip on the videogame market as Zumba Fitness as well as Just Dance 2, both for the Nintendo Wii make it into the top selling games again. Other titles such as Michael Jackson - The Experience and Country Dance (US-only) are able to leverage this trend as well. These branded videogames make a connection to the motion controls of the Nintendo Wii that resonates with large consumer audiences. It seems companies are finally improving their understanding of the market for motion controlled gaming.

Goldeneye 007 - one of the most memorable games on the Nintendo 64

As always, some brands appear in the sales list with new iterations of their videogame series, including tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters and WWE All Stars. LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars capitalizes on its strong videogame brand name by further extending it to include the fictional historic events of the Clone Wars. A unique case is that of Goldeneye 007. This videogame for the Nintendo Wii is a remake of the 1997 videogame that was based on the same titled James Bond movie. The 1997 videogame was seen as a milestone in the history of shooter videogames and many gamers still hold it close to their hearts. Developer Eurocom made some interesting adjustments to the design of the game, including an altered storyline with new characters and featuring actor Daniel Craig that has portrayed James Bond only since 2006. The appeal of adding new content and perspective while staying true to the strong core experience of the original could explain why the remake is performing quite steady, even after half a year since release.

Batman Arkham Asylum - Critically one of the best received branded videogames

Interestingly, some branded videogames are able to acquire a truly evergreen status in the marketplace. Batman Arkham Asylum is one of the most critically acclaimed branded videogames. Unlike most branded videogames, that only see a spike in sales during the launch of their movie counterparts, Batman is still in the US top 40 sales chart after as much as 87 weeks. In fact it has been performing quite steady even after the game passed the one year since release milestone. In the months since its one year anniversary, it has still been able to sell over a million units for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Of course, Batman is a solid brand with a loyal fan base, but these factors alone cannot account for the lasting attractiveness of Batman Arkham Asylum. Consumers see the value of Batman Arkham Asylum as both a high quality videogame as well as a unique batman product. This game is a good illustration of how investments in high quality and high brand fit have paid off in the long run. In the meantime, with over 25 weeks until launch left, both the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360 versions of the sequel Batman: Arkham City already appear in the US top 20 pre-order chart.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva - A videogame branded movie that employs puzzle elements

The other way around, videogame brands are working hard on expanding to other product categories. Puzzle videogame brand Professor Layton has seen a movie adaptation that involves the audience in the puzzles just as in the videogame: a good example of thoughtful brand fit. Toy stores promote the Angry Birds plush toys as the new hot toys the kids are playing with nowadays. It is impressive to see how a videogame for mobile phones has finally reached the level of an actual brand that consumers collectively relate to and that can be extended to other product categories. It has been difficult for many videogame publishers to stand out in the overcrowded iTunes store and Android marketplace. In the midst of this chaos, Angry Birds seems to have risen to become the symbol for gaming on the new generation of mobile phones.

Angry Birds break out of the cages of the iTunes Store

In the same toy stores, the newest theme that LEGO introduced a few months ago, called Ninjago, draws heavily on videogame playing principles. Next to the game mechanics that are integrated in the brick playing sets, the brand was immediately supported by a card game, a board game and a videogame for the Nintendo DS with a themed world for the online game LEGO Universe in the making. In addition to developing in-house brands, LEGO has build a reputation in the videogame market by extending external brands to quality products such as the earlier mentioned Star Wars videogame. It has also developed playing sets and videogames for the Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Toy Story, Indiana Jones and Prince of Persia brands. A lot can be learned from all of these efforts by LEGO, as it should be considered as one of the leading companies in establishing transmedia experiences.

LEGO's Ninjago is a true transmedia brand

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