505 Games will co-develop a series of video games with media company IMG Sports & Entertainment based on Fashion Week, the annual events where clothing designers and labels parade malnourished models wearing the next season's collections down runways in Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Milan. The concept of the games, created by makeup artist Pat McGrath and fashion insider Noel Gordon, features top models and runways. The series will become available on consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, as well as Apple's iPhone.
Although in the early stage of development, the games could serve up static or dynamic ads as part of the real-world experience at Fashion Week, typically sponsor-supported. Virtual goods could serve as the debut of various products. Dresses and purses might be previewed in the game before they hit Bloomingdale's racks.
505 Games plans to tap Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to create campaigns, but also work with Wal-Mart Stores, Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy and Game Stop to promote the games. The series will tie in with Fashion Week events in Milan, New York, Los Angeles and other locations that host the event worldwide.
"It's a perfect opportunity for the girl next door who wants to enter the fashion industry, but won't have the chance to come anywhere near it," says Adam Kline, president of 505 Games U.S. "Now she has an option to touch it, learn it and play it."
The Fashion Week series aims to attract females ranging from preteen to 30-something -- the sweet spot between ages 16 and 22. Kline says about 35% of woman who play casual video games tend gravitate toward the iPhone, compared with 65% for casual online games.
Successfully launching the series means investing millions of dollars to build and promote the games. The challenge isn't getting the game to market, but rather into the hands of consumers. The profit margin on video games varies, Kline says. A game based on DreamWorks Pictures' "Hotel for Dogs," for example, had a "reasonable budget" that generated a "decent profit."
505 Games entered North America last year from Europe. Aside from DreamWorks Pictures, the video game publisher in North America also has worked with Discovery Kids, Rolling Stone and Michael Phelps.