Yesterday, D3Publisher announced they will be developing and publishing video games based on three upcoming DreamWorks Animation feature films: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Rise of the Guardians in 2012, and The Croods in 2013.
Gamasutra reports that THQ recently had these titles under a multi-title game deal to last through 2011. However, THQ has seen a lot of financial problems as of late; Gaming Bus has even reported on the company’s possible delisting from Nasdaq. At that time, THQ said that they would be refocusing their development efforts on core and digital games while moving away from kid-based games.
D3Publisher is a subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings, which specializes in kid and some AAA-based games. Their titles include the Puzzle Quest series, multiple Ben 10 titles, and Dark Sector.
D3Publisher’s Bill Anker, Vice President of Business Development and Licensing, made the following statement:
“The upcoming video games based on the DreamWorks Animation films truly fit our commitment to making fun games that are enjoyable and accessible for the whole family across many platforms and handhelds. We look forward to working closely with the DreamWorks Animation team to deliver an authentic and compelling gameplay experience that will take the adventures in exciting new directions inspired by the films.”
DreamWorks’s Head of Global Interactive, Chris Hewish, also gave his comments:
“D3Publisher has a wealth of experience in both the creative development and marketing of family[-]friendly licensed games. This, along with their proven track record, makes them an ideal interactive partner for our next three films.”
Analysis: To me, it seems that the time was right for another developer to swoop in and acquire these titles from THQ. I believe the biggest mistake THQ made was with focusing so many of their resources on kid-based games and peripherals, like the uDraw. That piece of hardware flopped very quickly, and it put them in a slump they were unable to get out of. What they had to do was make promises to investors that they’d work only on titles that have worked for them in the past, like Dawn of War 3 and Darksiders 2, for this year and the future. THQ took a risk to put kid titles first and it didn’t pay off.
The problem with focusing on kid titles is that you can’t invest too much into them. Parents have to pay for these games, and we’re already in a financial crisis worldwide. Why would we pay for games when our kids can play them for free online? This is the foremost mindset of many parents, including myself. I’m not saying we aren’t afraid to pay for kids games, just that there has to be a foreseeable benefit for the kids to keep playing them after we pay for it. What sold me on the Wii was that it bundled the sports game with the core system, and I’m almost certain that was what many other parents saw as well: multiple games for one system out of the box. The uDraw was not as robust out of the box in comparison.
D3Publisher obviously has a track record of making a few good titles, and they sell reasonably well at an obviously low production cost. The problem is that the quality of these games aren’t much higher than free web-based games, if you know where to look. I’m not certain these DreamWorks-based games will be any better, but it won’t be too long before we find out.