Spore, the game -- and the movie?

Video-game publishing giant Electronic Arts (EA) wants to license television and movie rights to its soon-to-be released Spore game to boost sales, its creative guru Will Wright says.

Struggling with tepid sales and flagging interest from gamers, loss-making EA is rethinking its traditional ways of developing and marketing games.

It is banking on an aggressive marketing campaign and a raft of other new titles, including Dead Space and Warhammer Online, to achieve its guidance for full-year net revenue of $5-billion to $5,3-billion.

Last month, the firm posted a narrower fiscal first-quarter loss as revenue doubled on strong sales of some video games, but the results fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Spore, Wright’s brainchild, is the industry’s most hotly anticipated game. To be launched on September 7, it allows players to create empires and civilisations across galaxies, populated by creatures, buildings and spaceships.

Game on
California-based EA, which publishes blockbusters such as The Sims and Need for Speed, is battling Activision Blizzard for the title of the world’s biggest video-game maker. The company is in the midst of a hostile takeover bid for smaller rival Take-Two Interactive Software.

“With Spore, we’re looking way outside the game space, such as TV, movies etc.
We’re basically planting the seeds to spread Spore out to a much wider group of people than would ever play a computer game,” Wright said in an interview in Singapore during his Asian tour leading up to the game’s launch.

Atlanta, Georgia-born Wright, who believes in aliens and has been fascinated by space travel since childhood, said Spore was inspired by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme in the United States.

The computer game designer, who co-founded game development firm Maxis that was bought over by EA in 1997, is best known for The Sims, where players can create their own home environments in which characters do mundane tasks such as cooking meals and moving furniture.

“We’re going to be much more intelligent about harvesting other market opportunities for Spore than we were with The Sims, which as big as it was in the game space, pretty much remains in the game space,” said Wright.

EA has sold more than 100-million copies of The Sims video game franchise over its eight-year history.

“Longer term, I think the brand of Spore potentially has a wider net to cast than The Sims did,” he added.

Wright, whose favourite video game is the controversial Grand Theft Auto blockbuster series published by Take-Two, said personalised gaming will be the next big thing for the industry, after the focus on user-generated content.

“The computer could observe each player and capture a lot of metrics, which could be used to change the game so that it becomes personalised for him—his game becomes a reflection of who he is internally,” he said.

“Computer gaming would be like having your own Spielberg, and his whole job in life would be to craft a personal entertainment experience just for you.”—Reuters