Bruckheimer, MTV play Games

Videogame biz takes shape with 'Halo' exec

It’s been a year and a half since Jerry Bruckheimer announced plans to venture into the vidgame space through a partnership with MTV. Now there’s finally movement.

The producer has tapped Jim Veevaert, the lead exec behind Microsoft’s lucrative “Halo” franchise, and Ubisoft vet Jay Cohen to run Jerry Bruckheimer Games Studio as prexies of production and development, respectively.

Bruckheimer said it took time to identify the execs he wanted to run his vidgame venture and then coax them out of their previous jobs.

Veevaert has spent the past eight years at Microsoft and was the executive producer on “Halo 3.” He also managed Microsoft’s relationship with vidgame developer Bungie Studios, behind the successful “Halo” franchise for the Xbox 360.

Before “Halo,” Veevaert paired up Epic Games and its “Gears of War” franchise with Microsoft and collaborated with Rare to expand its “Viva Pinata” into a series of family-friendly games and an animated TV show.

Cohen has spent the past decade at French vidgame publisher Ubisoft as senior VP of publishing, building the company’s North American subsid into a top developer of franchises like “Prince of Persia,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Rayman,” “Splinter Cell” and “Rainbow Six.”

Bruckheimer called the execs “two of the most knowledgeable, brightest and creative talents in this industry” and said their experience, the types of games they’ve produced and their personalities fit with the type of gaming company he’s looking to set up.

Certainly the titles have proved attractive to Bruckheimer: The producer is in the midst of adapting “Prince of Persia” into a major tentpole for Disney that bows next summer.

MTV has been looking to bolster its vidgame portfolio, which is currently dominated by Harmonix’s “Rock Band,” with more franchises, and is hoping Bruckheimer’s company can produce them.

Bruckheimer has said he’s not looking to churn out titles based on his movies and TV shows given that the rights for those properties are mostly controlled by studios.

Instead, he’s more interested in producing original fare that’s influenced by the type of brand he’s created for the big and small screens. He’ll let Veevaert and Cohen choose which games get made.

No date has yet been set for the bow of the first game.

“I certainly have a love for storytelling and characters,” Bruckheimer told Daily Variety. “We can add our expertise from what we’ve learned making films and TV shows to the videogame world. The two mediums are melding.”

MTV will publish Bruckheimer’s games and co-develop them with Veevaert and Cohen, providing production support and managing their distribution and global marketing efforts. It will especially promote the titles across its platforms, which include MTV, CMT, Spike and VH1.

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