Advergames For Games

The latest installment of the storied "Tomb Raider" franchise is slated to release this summer on Xbox Live and the Playstation Store. Or is it? "Lara Croft and the Guardians of Light" ditches nearly everything about the franchise except for the heroine. Gone is the over-the-shoulder perspective, the current plotline, and even the "Tomb Raider" name. Instead, there's now heavier puzzle elements and a second player who takes the role of "Toltec," a Mayan warrior who must be very confused to be named after a different pre-Columbian civilization than his own.

"Tomb Raider" development house Crystal Dynamics' GM, Darrell Gallagher explained to Gamasutra the rationale of the revamped title. It's not so much a replacement for the old franchise as a maintenance dose for series addicts to keep them warm while Crystal Dynamics works on the next installment of the franchise.

It's also essentially an early marketing push for Crystal Dynamic's next "Tomb Raider" game -- but the difference is, rather than paying to push "Guardians of Light" onto consumers like most marketing vehicles, Crystal Dynamics is getting consumers to pay for it -- $15, to be exact. It's not quite the $60 price point of a new "Tomb Raider" game, but neither are the same development resources needed. It's a relatively quick and easy way for Crystal Dynamics to leverage the value of the "Tomb Raider" I.P., while the company continues to develop another triple-A title based on it.

I can't help but wonder if the same principle could be applied to licensed video games for major movie releases. Let's be honest with ourselves -- these games are usually terrible. If, rather than trying to make a full-length, full-featured video game to release concurrently, movie studios put those development dollars into bite-sized downloadable games that prepped audiences for the upcoming film, they could not only market their movie, but potentially even recoup the investment in the process.

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  1. J S from Ideal Living Media, March 30, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.

    I agree this may be a little sad, but it is also a solid idea for marketing games, movies, and other media properties. My 5 year old son came to me the other day to ask if there was a Twilight game, because if there was, he said, he wanted to play it. No game. In Virtual Family Kingdom you can change into a wolf using twilight magic, and in Habbo hotel you can buy a half dozen or so Twilight themed items. That's it. Even a casual Twilight-themed game would be highly profitable, and the target demo likely wouldn't be upset with the offering, they'd be ecstatic. Just today they announced a new mini-Twilight book, a novella, focusing on a bit player's background story. So why not extend this -- or other franchises -- with a mini game?

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