‘Ice Age’ coming to videogames

Studio plans tie-ins related to film sequel's summer release

Fox is looking to extend the Ice Age.

The studio plans a trio of videogame tie-ins for the franchise — on consoles, mobile phones and Web browsers — to both whip up excitement about the film’s fourth installment this summer and give fans a way to stay engaged long after “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” leaves theaters.

The move to embrace the vidgame world comes on the heels of Fox launching a browser-based, multiplayer online game based on comedy “Family Guy” one week ago.

“This is part of the strategy to expand these brands into the gaming world,” says Jeffrey Godsick, president of Fox Consumer Products. “It’s a natural progression of what we do as a company. We create content and we create opportunities for people to immerse themselves in that content.”

With “Ice Age,” Fox plans to leave no stone unturned. A Web-based tycoon game (like Zynga’s “FarmVille”) launched earlier this month and is closing fast on 10 million installations. Android and iPhone users can download Ice Age Village. And Activision-Blizzard on Tuesday will announce “Ice Age: Continental Drift – Arctic Games,” a minigame-focused title for all major console systems.

Fox sees the games as an extension of the brands, and it’s not stopping with its animated catalog. Later this year, Sega will publisher “Aliens: Colonial Marines,” giving fans of the series (who have had nothing since the 2004 film “Alien vs. Predator”) a reminder that they have not been forgotten.

“We believe these are 365-day properties,” Godsick said. “The movie is obviously the single biggest event since there’s so much attention, but they’re really all part of a larger franchise plan.”

This isn’t Fox’s first foray into the world of videogames. In 1982, the company launched Fox Interactive, which focused largely on studio franchises, such as “Aliens,” “Die Hard” and “Futurama.” The division was acquired by Vivendi Universal Games in 2004 and shuttered in 2006.

This gaming push comes at what could prove to be an awkward time. THQ, which has relied heavily on licensed children’s properties in the past, is facing a possible delisting from Nasdaq and has abandoned those sorts of games. Other publishers tend to avoid them as well, as they’re rarely big money earners.

Godsick said that due to the franchise’s history, “Ice Age” was a fairly easy sell, but he points out that the studio is not relying exclusively on traditional gaming outlets.

“I think we’re in this fundamental shift in the industry right now,” he says. “[However,] videogames are important because they reach such a variety of age demographics. … The audience playing Xbox is different than the audience playing 3DS, which is different than those playing on their phones or the browser.”

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