Syfy teams on series, game

Trion Worlds' 'Defiance' aims for transmedia experience

There’s a lot of chatter about transmedia in the videogame industry, but few companies have truly pulled off a successful collaboration of games and traditional media. Trion Worlds is hoping to buck that trend — with a lot of help from cabler Syfy.

The publisher and cabler are teaming for “Defiance,” a massively multiplayer online action game and a weekly series on the network, which has committed to a full season order.

The series created by TV vet Rockne S. O’Bannon bows April 13, 2013, with the game launching a few days earlier (to help establish the fiction and introduce some characters that will appear on the show).

The skein, which stars Grant Bowler (“True Blood”) and Julie Benz (“Dexter”), depicts a future Earth, which has been transformed by the crash of an alien spaceship. By setting the TV series in St. Louis and the game in San Francisco, the two are able to create separate but linked worlds. That keeps one product from being a shadow of the other but creates a continuity that allows events in the game to influence the show. It also allows for crossovers as characters transition between the game and show.

Trion and Syfy have been developing “Defiance” for more than four years — and the time needed to create a MMO game was something of a shock for the network.

“This has been learning curve for us in TV,” said Syfy president Dave Howe. “Four years is a looong time. … (However,) neither of us wanted to spin off a property that pre-existed. We wanted to build something from the ground up.”

NBCUniversal is an investor in Trion. And Syfy has an ownership stake in the game, so it has a vested interest in seeing the title succeed. Howe adds that “Defiance,” the show, is the network’s most ambitious project to date and represents its biggest investment in terms of programming and marketing.

Of course, it won’t be essential to play the game to enjoy “Defiance” the show — or to watch the show to enjoy the game, but Howe and Trion CEO and founder Lars Butler both say fans who do both will get a more complete experience.

“This is transmedia in a way that has never happened before,” Butler said.