Video game-inspired web series are quickly becoming a go-to marketing strategy for publishers – as both a means to provide continuous PR buzz as well as test the waters for big-budget feature film potential.
As a result, it should come as absolutely no surprise that Activision, arguably the most aggressive business in the industry, is launching a web series based on the high-profile Call of Duty franchise – exclusive to Call of Duty Elite subscribers.
If you’re expecting Activision to merely throw together an amateur production on a modest studio lot with a cast full of former reality TV stars looking to make the jump to a proper acting career, think again. Like everything Call of Duty-related, the publisher intends to produce a gripping set of episodes – filmed by “top Hollywood talent.”
Eric Hirshberg, Activision Publishing’s chief executive, recently spoke with the Guardian about the upcoming web series:
“We have engaged some top Hollywood talent to create linear video content that will be exclusive to Elite members. That content is inspired by Call of Duty […] We’re not going to give much more detail until we have something to show. That’ll be later in the year.”
While “top Hollywood talent” might sound intriguing, without the mention of any actual names, it’s reasonable to assume that Hirshberg and Co. aren’t exactly in talks with Michael Bay or James Cameron and are attempting to sell potential viewers on the type of production they’re hoping to produce – instead of actually lining-up bankable names.
That said, the video game-turned web series format has certainly worked for Assassin’s Creed and Mortal Kombat – so, assuming the Call of Duty project delivers on its Hollywood-esque promise, it’s very likely that the series will not only create buzz for future CoD brand games but also get the gears turning on a proper film adaptation. However, even if the series doesn’t catch-fire with non-fans, it will have still succeeded in one of Activision’s primary goals – keeping people involved in the CoD world between game releases:
“If you’re a sports fan, there are lots of ways for you to connect with that hobby, that passion, not just on the day that the games are played, but throughout the week, and we wanted to give [Call of Duty players] real entertainment value.”
Despite similarities to the aforementioned game-to-film web series format, the Call of Duty series will be the first to rely on a subscription-based release method. Sure, Mortal Kombat: Legacy episode 1 has been viewed over 10 million times – but none of those viewers had to pay (or even register) for the content – leaving a lot of uncertainty surrounding how successful a web series that’s couched in limited access will succeed. The finer Call of Duty Elite details are still somewhat scarce – so it’s definitely possible that certain Elite content might be made available to the general public – after a certain amount of time.
Afterall, most game-web series projects have been designed primarily to raise awareness about a product to non-fans – not to provide content to people who are already drinking the Kool-Aid.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know if you’d watch a Call of Duty web series – and whether or not you’d be willing to pay to see it.
Expect to hear more about the Call of Duty web series as we get closer to the release of Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty Elite for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on November 8.
Source: The Guardian