Sega Backs Alien

The seminal space movies are coming to a next-gen console near you

For decades, Sega focused on original games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin and Outrun. Over the past two years, the Japanese game publisher has delved into the Hollywood licensing realm by creating a Nintendo DS game based on Paramount's Christmas release, Charlotte's Web, and signing on for New Line Cinema's His Dark Materials trilogy (a game based on The Golden Compass will ship next fall), and Marvel Entertainment's Iron Man (a game will bow in May 2008 with the film). Now Sega of America is following in the footsteps of publishers like Electronic Arts (The Godfather, From Russian with Love), Vivendi Games (Scarface), Rockstar Games (The Warriors) and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (Dirty Harry) by reaching into the Hollywood vaults to bring 20th Century Fox's Alien franchise to next generation game consoles and PCs.

"Our number one goal is to deliver the best Alien game experience ever," said Mike Gallo, senior producer of the Alien games at Sega of America. "That means delivering on the core elements of the Alien franchise - intense horror, intense action, and intense characters."

Sega is currently developing two original Alien games that will feature elements and characters from the films. The game maker is currently in talks with several actors from the film franchise, including Sigourney Weaver and Lance Henriksen, to star in the games. One game is a first-person shooter and a second game is a role-playing game. The first Alien game is slated to ship in 2009.

"There hasn't been a game set in the Alien universe in several years, and no one's had the chance to develop one on next gen consoles and PCs," said Gallo. "We're going to utilize all the technology that's available to us, creating visuals and effects that have previously only been possible in the Alien movies. Even the style of games that we're building is unprecedented - there has never been an Alien RPG."

Sega will bring multiple Alien games out over the coming years as a result of this multi-year agreement. Rob Lightner, vice president of business development, Sega of America, said, "We're certainly planning to build these franchises out and support them with strong resources and our absolute best talent. For now, we're concentrating on making the FPS and the RPG and the best Alien games that anyone has ever played."

Lightner said Sega is currently exploring all options, including bringing Alien games out on portable platforms in the future. He said they're not ruling anything out.

"As far back as the release of the first Alien movie in 1979, videogame publishers were clamoring for the rights to turn such an iconic and revolutionary story into an interactive adventure," said Elie Dekel, executive vice president of 20th Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising. "Needless to say, Alien on the Atari 2600 didn't exactly live up to the visceral impact of the film. But with the advanced capabilities of today's videogame consoles, we're in a position to complement, and in some cases, surpass the film experience by immersing the player in a hostile universe that incorporates photo-real graphics and animation, captivating sound design, and brand-new storylines with the most menacing creatures ever created in the science-fiction world. Videogame technology is now able to do justice to the film franchise."

While Sega has the rights to all things Alien, it does not have the game rights to the current Aliens versus Predator franchise, which has a sequel in production for the big screen. Dekel said that film franchise is separate, but a separate game licensing deal is not out of the question, assuming a publisher is interested.

"Our focus is the Alien franchise, which does not include anything from the AvP franchise," said Gallo. "We will tap into anything and everything within the universe that was created in the first four films."

Those first four films earned $557 million at the box office and nabbed two Academy Awards. The brand is still well known among gamers, who have seen about a dozen Alien games on various consoles and portables over the past 24 years.