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Bruckheimer, MTV pact for games

TV producer enters video game world

MTV has forged an exclusive pact with Jerry Bruckheimer to produce videogames — the first such deal any film or TV producer has made in the vidgame world.

Accord also marks the first major move in the vidgame space for MTV since it released music title “Rock Band,” from “Guitar Hero” developer Harmonix, last month.

The only similar partnership is that of Electronic Arts with Steven Spielberg, though in that case the director is actually helping to create three games, not producing them.

Bruckheimer and MTV will create a co-owned gaming studio that will develop videogame properties. It’s not expected to develop games based on films Bruckheimer produces, as the interactive rights to those are typically owned by studios.

“We’ve been researching videogames for quite a while, trying to find the most talented people to partner with,” Bruckheimer said of the move.

MTV will own and publish games developed by the studio, with the name of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “CSI” exec producer prominently featured, just like on his movies and TV shows.

Partners are surely hoping Bruckheimer will become a brand in the videogame world the way he already has in movies and TV. Currently, the only analogous individual in the vidgame biz is Tom Clancy, whose name is on a number of military and espionage games published by Ubisoft.

“Jerry has become a brand because the entertainment products he develops connect so well to our audience,” said MTV exec veep Jeff Yapp, who oversees vidgames for the cable conglom. “We want him to take that same insightfulness into gaming.”

Bruckheimer’s extensive connections and influence in showbiz will likely be utilized as well, since he can help bring in creatives from traditional media to work on his vidgames.

“When I moved to TV, I got people from features to join, and I plan to rely on the same talent pool and marry them with the gaming community,” he told Daily Variety.

Since the partnership was just formed, MTV and Bruckheimer haven’t yet identified any projects they will develop. Yapp noted there are no particular genres in mind and that they may work on virtual worlds and casual, downloadable games as well as major console releases.

Deal is part of a major push by MTV into vidgames in the past year. Company has said it will be investing $500 million, much of which will surely be utilized for Bruckheimer-produced titles. In addition, Harmonix, which MTV bought for $175 million last year, is known to be working on both a “Rock Band” sequel and a new original property.

Though limited supplies have kept “Rock Band” off the bestseller lists so far, Yapp said the title has essentially sold out at retail outlets, and MTV believes it’s well positioned to sell strongly throughout next year. A version for PlayStation 2 was just released this week.

Beyond some consulting on games based on his films, Bruckheimer has never before worked in the vidgame arena. Just as most studios are expanding their involvement in videogames, producers are increasingly looking to get involved in the fast-growing biz, which has seen revenue boom 50% this year.

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