WB aims to plug in profits

Hall to head vidgame unit

Seeking more control and profits from vidgames based on its properties, Warner Bros. is creating a division to co-publish and develop interactive titles.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is headed by Jason Hall, who was named senior VP in charge. Hall is a veteran vidgame exec, having previously served as CEO of developer Monolith Prods., which is making a multiplayer online game based on “The Matrix.”

He reports to exec vice prexy of corporate business development and strategy Kevin Tsujihara and prexy of worldwide consumer products Dan Romanelli.

Identifying potential

Division’s primary responsibility is identifying WB properties with vidgame potential and supervising their development from the earliest stages, working with producers, execs and creatives. “It’s a huge priority for us to work as early as possible inhouse,” Hall explained. “Historically, games based on films have often been rushed, which gave licenses a bad name.”

WB Interactive Entertainment will oversee the creation of games in a variety of ways, although Hall said most often it will serve as co-publisher, working intimately with the developer to oversee production and with a publishing partner who will handle distribution. That’s the model being used for “The Matrix” online game, which is being made by Monolith and distributed by Ubisoft.

In other cases where the studio wants less involvement, it will simply sell the licenses.

Creating own division

Most intriguing, however, WB Interactive is also creating its own division called Warner Bros. Games that will develop, produce and distribute vidgames under its own brand.

Hall said that division is still in the planning stages, but once it is established, it will give WB the ability to take projects inhouse when it can’t find an appropriate partner.

Other studios have adopted different strategies. Vivendi Universal, for instance, is separating from its gaming unit once the merger of its entertainment assets with NBC is complete; Fox and DreamWorks sold theirs to VU Games and Electronic Arts, respectively.

New WB division, which will take in some employees who previously worked for the studio’s licensing unit, will let the studio share in profits of successful games like last year’s “Enter the Matrix.”

Other WB vidgames in development include “Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban,” “ER” and “The Polar Express.”

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