Ubisoft, Fox pact on ‘Avatar’

Co. also closing deal to produce 'Heroes' game

Ubisoft is closing videogame deals for two of Hollywood’s hottest sci-fi properties.

French publisher revealed on Tuesday that it will make a vidgame based on Fox’s James Cameron-helmed 3-d pic “Avatar.” Sources also said that Ubisoft is finishing a deal with NBC Universal to produce a “Heroes” videogame.

It’s likely the two companies will reveal their plans for a “Heroes” game at Comic-Con this week.

Though few TV shows have been successfully translated into videogames, “Heroes” is a natural given its super-powered characters and heavy interest amongst gamers.

Reps for Ubisoft and NBC U declined to comment.

Ubisoft and Fox were talking about “Avatar,” however.

It will be the first game based on a summer tentpole for the publisher, which is increasing its Hollywood licensing pacts. It has previously made games based on “King Kong” and Sony’s animated features and has a “Beowulf” adaptation in the works.

Both the pic and game will come out in May 2009.

“Avatar’s” creative team has been thinking about a videogame from the project’s inception and were eager to find a partner who could translate the setting, tone, and characters.

“It was very important to [Cameron] and the rest of us that the universe of ‘Avatar’ be expanded and give game players opportunities for new experiences,” said producer Jon Landau.

He added that because so much of “Avatar” is being created digitally, those assets can be used directly by the vidgame’s creative team, which will be one of Ubisoft’s internal developers.

Due to the huge amount of technical work going into “Avatar,” which will be shot entirely in 3-D, and the small amount of top release dates, Fox claimed Memorial Day weekend 2009 for the pic earlier this year.

That gives Ubisoft a healthy two years to make the game. One of the biggest reasons why many movie-based games end up being low quality is the short amount of time allowed to produce them.

“We have a lot of time to develop this game, which we need, because it’s a big bet for us and will be one of our very top titles that year,” said Ubisoft licensing VP Christian Salomon.

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