First published in MCV
Last month, Game of Thrones fans might have been surprised to see Ed Sheeran in the latest series. Fans were split over the cameo itself, but it opens up a wider conversation regarding the crossovers that are becoming more popular across the entertainment industry, and specifically in the gaming world.
Every entertainment medium has its well-known stars. In gaming, voice actors such as Troy Baker and Jennifer Hale are prized. But with guest-starring roles becoming an increasingly popular plot addition, the line that separates film and gaming celebrities is beginning to blur.
Stars of the screen are beginning to appear in games frequently, with talented actors like Kevin Spacey and Norman Reedus lending both their vocal skills and likenesses to games. And it’s not just actors, as British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton made his debut appearance last year in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, as did UFC’s Conor McGregor.
While there is an argument about whether or not celebrities belong in these worlds, their placement creates a link to new audiences and other pop culture spheres. This can create excellent PR for the release of an upcoming game by broadening audiences.
Someone that’s set to do just that is a man best known for playing The Doctor. Bringing with him years of onscreen talent, David Tennant has secured a top role in the zombie segment of Call of Duty: WWII. Tennant’s appointment is a clever one. What better way to draw in new audiences than an actor with a huge fan following from previous roles?
What better way to draw in new audiences than an actor with a huge fan following?
Dan Amos, Tinderbox
In his new role as The Nazi Hunter, Tennant should feel at ease voicing a character who is quite similar to the Time Lord. In turn, this will allow fans to be far more receptive to the crossover from television. Fans of David Tennant and The Doctor are also likely to follow him across to the new platform of gaming – a sector they may not be familiar with – thus extending the fan base of both the core game and its accompanying consumer products programme.
A larger audience means more possibility to grow the product assortment associated with the game. By creating successful crossovers between the two industries, Activision is working towards a world in which there’s little difference between a gaming franchise and a film franchise.
Indeed, Call of Duty is well on its way to delivering its own series of blockbuster films. This makes crossovers even more important, as fans will be able to enjoy the franchise without having to view them as two different forms of entertainment. This will then grow the reach of the gaming franchises’ consumer products programmes, allowing the films to support the games and vice versa.
It’s certainly a challenging task to merge two industries that have historically been seen as different experiences, and will require considerable effort. But the small steps publishers are taking already could pay off. It might not be too long until it’s possible to go to the cinema and watch a compelling story unravel for a gaming franchise and then go home and play the game itself.
Will we soon see a time where all edges of the entertainment industry are blurred? It is entirely possible.
Dan Amos is Head of New Media of Tinderbox, the dedicated digital division of leading global brand extension agency, Beanstalk.
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