Universal game for mouse ‘Tale’

Studio makes first videogame bid

Universal is making its first jump into videogames with “The Tale of Despereaux.”

Studio previously unveiled plans to start investing in its own videogames, rather than licensing them all out. First announced title was a videogame version of “Wanted,” which is expected to come out sometime in 2009.

However, U’s first self-produced game will be an adaptation of its upcoming toon “The Tale of Despereaux,” about a heroic mouse on a fairy-tale quest. Studio is fully funding a version of the game for Nintendo’s handheld DS system and has pacted with Brash Entertainment to market and distribute it.

Brash itself is producing licensed versions of “Despereaux” for the PlayStation 2, PC, Wii and Xbox 360, making a partnership on the DS game a natural.

As with “Wanted,” which is being distributed by Warner Bros., Universal is using its own producers to oversee development of “Despereaux” on DS.

“We felt we had the bandwidth to do two projects that we really believed in,” said Bill Kispert, VP of interactive for U’s digital platforms group. “Both games are very different types of content, which we think shows the diversity of what we can do.”

Universal is only the latest studio to cut back on licensing and start funding some of its own videogames. Paramount is moving into the space starting with a slate of casual games based on “Clueless,” “Mean Girls” and “Pretty in Pink,” while Warner Bros. and Disney already have sizable videogame publishing businesses.

“Despereaux” vidgame will be released in December along with the film. It is being developed by Austin-based Fizz Factor, which is owned by vidgame development conglom Foundation 9 Entertainment.