Vidgames carve niche at confab

Publishers to hype tentpole titles at Comic-Con

First, impress the industry, then take the sales pitch to consumers.

Two months after the videogame biz showcased its newest tentpole titles to retailers and the press at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, publishers will hype much of the same lineup at this week’s Comic-Con Intl., kicking off Thursday.

The San Diego confab has essentially become the latest pit stop in the yearlong marketing campaign for new game launches. And for many publishers, it will be the first time they’ll give members of the buying public the chance to play the titles.

Big push by publishers at Comic-Con as they attempt to court the very vocal 130,000 attendees who are eager to spread their opinion across blogs, Facebook and Twitter reflects a strategy similar to that of the broadcast and cable TV networks that are taking their fall shows to the show after unveiling them to advertisers at the upfronts.

The increased presence of gamemakers has certainly been felt, with a small side section of the convention’s show floor expanding over the years to the point that it takes up sizable real estate. Companies including Sony now also have a separate panel for each of their games in conference rooms around the convention center. And the videogame presence has spread outside the center through lounges, parties and other demos open to the public.

Separately, comicbook publisher Marvel will host panels for its games, including “Spider-Man: Edge of Time,” “X-Men Destiny, “Captain America: Super Soldier,” “Super Hero Squad Online” and “Marvel vs. Capcom 3.” Other publishers have similar events planned.

Altogether, at least 23 publishers will tubthump more than 60 games:

• Activision will promote a James Bond actioner, “Prototype 2,” as well as Marvel’s “X-Men: Destiny” and “Spider-Man: Edge of Time.”

• Blizzard will host the Swag Show panel to promote merchandise for its “World of Warcraft,” Diablo” and “Starcraft” franchises.

• Capcom is taking “Dragon’s Dogma,” “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City,” “Resident Evil Revelations,” “Street Fighter X Tekken,” “Asura’s Wrath,” “Dead Rising 2: Off the Record,” “Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition” and “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.”

• Deep Silver will host a panel on the fascination with zombies as it promotes its “Dead Island” game.

• EA is focusing on fantasy or sci-fi fare like “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” “Dragon Age II: Legacy” and “Mass Effect 3” but is experimenting by taking EA Sports’ snowboarding game “SSX” as well.

• Epic Games will promote “Gears of War 3.”

• Gazillion Entertainment will push its “Super Hero Squad Online,” a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, based on the Marvel toys and TV show.

• Ignition Entertainment will launch “El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron,” out July 26.

• Konami will host events for “Metal Gear,” “Castlevania,” “Contra” and “Silent Hill.”

• LucasArts is back with its next “Star Wars” game, this time for the Xbox 360’s Kinect, while BioWare will hype MMO “Star Wars: The Old Republic.”

• Microsoft will host another panel for its “Halo” franchise, which boasts its own comicbooks, animated shorts and toys targeting the Comic-Con contingent. Company will also host the Xbox Lounge from the Hard Rock Hotel.

• For Namco Bandai’s franchise “Tekken,” the 3D animated pic “Tekken: Blood Vengeance” will be screened in theaters July 26.

• NCsoft has MMOs “City of Heroes” and “Guild Wars 2.”

• Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” will sponsor A-List Communications’ celeb and media lounge.

• Sega’s bringing its “Captain America” game, tied to the film that bows Friday during Comic-Con.

• Sony Computer Entertainment will feature a massive lineup of PlayStation 3 games.

• After years of showing off its superhero-packed MMO “DC Universe Online,” it’s no surprise Sony Online Entertainment is bringing back the game, which expands onto new platforms.

• Square Enix will promote “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” and MMO “Wakfu.”

• Telltale Games has the first game for “The Walking Dead,” based on the AMC show that successfully launched at last year’s Con.

• For THQ, the focus is on its games that tie in to the reboot of the “Voltron” franchise, driven by Nicktoons’ “Voltron Force” series, Mattel toys, VIZ Media and Dynamite comicbooks, although it will host a party for “Saint’s Row: The Third.”

• Ubisoft will host a discussion of its “Assassin’s Creed” franchise with a look at the upcoming game, “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations,” and animated film “Assassin’s Creed: Embers.”

• Warner Bros. Interactive is making a big push for “Batman: Arkham City,” along with “F.E.A.R. 3” and “Lord of the Rings: War in the North.”

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