Shinning A Light On Dead Space

In this week’s issue of BusinessWeek, my colleague and intrepid tech writer Cliff Edwards and I go behind Electronic Arts’ (ERTS.O) forthcoming operatic sci-fi space horror game, Dead Space. In addition to the game’s gory details — don’t miss the weapon dubbed the Ripper, a flying chain-saw-like decapitation machine — we take a look at why Dead Space is so important to the company’s future.

While aliens, guts, and gore are nothing new (the game’s graphics, however, are out of this world), Dead Space is emblematic of CEO John Riccitiello’s bullishness on so-called “IP-cubed,” or cross-media development. The idea is to first develop a world, a set of characters, a feeling and then spin that out into games, films, merchandise, Web sites, and so on.

Anybody who’s watched Super Mario Bros. the movie (why, oh God, why?), knows that cross-overb dream isn’t new. The execution is experiencing a sea-change though. Games-makers are getting in the driver’s seat. Earlier today, the whip-smart Leigh Alexander, the blogger behind the essential Sexyvideogameland, sent me a note about a conference calls he’d been on with Ubisoft (UBSFF), where the company’s CEO Yves Guillemot also firmly backed the strategy, telling her, “We can actually, in creating the stories, create new characters, new backgrounds that help us to define those characters for the games and for the future movies.”

Added Guillemot, “It will help to build bridges between books, movies and games to enhance consumer interest… our goal is to make sure they get in the Clancy universe around our products. They can play, read, watch movies or TV series, and all this will make them get more interested by that universe, and control the ability to get a lot more information on the characters and what happens and so on.”

Of course, the same thing has been happening with toys and comic books. A decade ago, Marvel (mvl) had legions of fans, but teetered on the edge of bankruptcy amid a sharp slowdown in sales. Today, the company is a Hollywood power, with its own movie studio and a strong business in licensing its material to others. In a June 07 profile titled Marvel Wants to Flex Its Own Heroic Muscles The New York Times explained how the company remade itself. The first movies from Marvel’s own studio are due out at the beginning of the summer.

For more, read our full story.

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