Videogame hopes to benefit from 'Auto' traffic

With its release of an “Iron Man” videogame pegged to ride the coattails of one of this summers most anticipated tentpoles, Sega looked to be sitting pretty.

But then a little game called “Grand Theft Auto IV” shifted from a planned October 2007 release date to April 29 of this year.

“A light bulb went off for all of us,” says Sega VP of business development Rob Lightner, “and we said, ‘Hey is that the…?’”

Indeed it was.

“Grand Theft Auto IV’s” new date was the same week that Sega was to release its “Iron Man” game.

Most vidgames can easily be pushed back a few weeks to get out of the way of a behemoth like “GTA IV.” But Sega’s entire bet on “Iron Man” was premised on feeding off Par’s huge marketing campaign for the film.

While most industryites don’t think “GTA IV” is going to have a noticeable impact on “Iron Man’s” box office, it could very well impact “Iron Man” videogame sales.

Sega’s going all-out to prevent that, though.

“The basic principle is that we want to be everywhere the movie is,” says Lightner.

To that end, Sega has been promoting the game at every panel, convention and fan event at which the film has had a presence. While Marvel and Par have to sell their film to a broad audience, Sega just has to get that segment of the film aud that also plays games — mostly young males — to sell the several million units at $50 or $60 a pop that it needs to turn a profit.

Sega is also hoping that increased foot traffic in videogame stores for “GTA IV” could benefit it, particularly when parents find out that action title is rated M, while “Iron Man” is T (the vidgame equivalents of R and PG-13).

But what happens if gamers just don’t have an extra $50 or $60 for “Iron Man” after buying “GTA IV”?

The same maxim that holds for movies also applies to their tie-in games: There’s always the DVD release.

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