Infogrames talks licensing

Rob Watson, senior vice president of worldwide licensing at Infogrames, talks about the recent Mission: Impossible-2 licensing agreement, and its other licenses such as Superman and Dragon Ball Z.

Yesterday, Infogrames officially confirmed its licensing agreement with Viacom Consumer Products to develop next-generation games based on the Mission: Impossible-2 franchise. Following the announcement, GameSpot had the opportunity to speak with Rob Watson, senior vice president of worldwide licensing at Infogrames. Watson spoke further about the specifics regarding the Mission: Impossible-2 licensing agreement and updated us on the status of the company's other major licenses such as Superman and Dragon Ball Z. Our entire Q&A with Rob Watson follows.

GameSpot: Can you talk a little about the licensing deal that was announced for Mission: Impossible-2?

Rob Watson: It is one of our most important deals for obvious reasons and it does represent a significant investment in the marketing, development, and commitment to that franchise. It is one of the most significant investments that we have made as a company.

GS: Is the licensing agreement only for Mission: Impossible-2? Does it encompass future films in the series?

RW: It is for Mission: Impossible-2, but that does include the entire universe. The game is not trying to center on the movie as such. It is trying to center on some of the elements of the movie, but also on the whole universe that was being created by both the previous movie and the television series. It is a very rich universe out there, which we're using as a basis for creating a great product.

GS: When can we expect to see the first games using the license?

RW: Unfortunately, we all have to bear the process of long development times in order to make great games. In about 18 months' time you'll be seeing some really great stuff from us using that license. We believe that the way the movies are positioned, next generation fits it like a glove on the technology side.

GS: The announcement listed the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox as the lead platforms for your Mission: Impossible-2 games. But will we see M:I-2 games on the GameCube as well?

RW: Yes, absolutely. The truth is that we can't do all the development at once. Obviously, with the Microsoft Xbox and the Sony PlayStation 2 out of the box first in this next generation, we have to develop for those consoles first.

GS: Infogrames announced a licensing deal last year for Superman. We haven't heard further details since. When will we see the first Superman games?

RW: The first games are not imminent, but in the next six to 12 months you'll see some great Superman products coming out.

GS: What's the status of the new Dragon Ball Z games?

RW: Our Wizard Works division in Minneapolis is developing Dragon Ball Z. The studio has to work with a very quick turnaround time on the license. So, we're talking a far shorter term there I think, when compared with Superman. We're going to bring out a Dragon Ball Z game first, but then we've got some great ideas on how to extend the franchise. We would like to bring out at least two products using that license.

GS: Any other licensing agreements imminent?

RW: In about a couple of weeks I will be able to make another big licensing announcement. At that time, when I tell you the details, I think you'll understand that it fits in very clearly with the strategy that we're taking to work with major licenses that have a universal franchise. We are working on games that fit very much into the action-adventure genre that we're good at doing.

GS: Some of these new licensing deals that you've announced, like Superman and Mission: Impossible-2, generally appeal to an older audience. Is that the start of a trend, or will we see more games under franchises such as Looney Tunes?

RW: We're still supporting both types. Obviously, for Looney Tunes, its major audience is kids 5 through 11 years old. But with action-adventure, we're really going for the group that I guess you could call generation Y or the early adopters. In other words, the 18- to 25-year-old gamers who are willing to invest early on a console and the games that they like for that console. So, that is a big piece of our market, yes.

GS: Will you be gearing actual game releases toward the demographics of each console? For example, will the GameCube get games that are aimed at younger audiences?

RW: I think because of the complexity of developing for next-generation consoles--the PS2 especially--we do have to spend a lot of time in making a real complete and challenging game. So, there are certainly demographic decisions we have to make, and with the GameCube, yes, we do think that the general audience will skew younger.

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