Pocket Gems has partnered with Fox to create a mobile game based on the upcoming Night at the Museum movie. It’s another example of how brands are diving into mobile games and mobile game publishers are adopting brands to help their titles stand out in the ultra-competitive app stores.
For San Francisco-based Pocket Gems, Night at the Museum: Hidden Treasures is its first foray into movie games. It comes out just a few weeks before the third film in the series, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, debuts in theaters on Dec. 19. The free-to-play game is a hidden-object game, where players view intricate images inside a museum and look for objects hidden in the landscape. It uses the likeness of Larry Daley, the security guard character that Ben Stiller plays in the films. The goal is to team up with history’s biggest personalities to save the museum’s magic from falling into the wrong hands.
Movie games are nothing new. They fell out of favor with consoles because it was hard to time a console game — developed over years and subject to delays — to come out at the same time as a movie. And many early mobile games were more like advergames, meant to promote awareness of a movie but not expected to generate profits. But with smartphones and tablets in the hands of more than a billion people, mobile games can now be a gold mine. Chris Dewolfe, the chief executive of rival mobile game maker SGN, said this week that Hollywood studios have realized that a well-done mobile game could potentially be the biggest source of profits for an entertainment property, partly because the costs of making mobile games are lower.
Jameel Khalfan, who oversees intellectual property partnerships and business development at Pocket Gems, agreed that movie-based mobile games are a hot trend. Successful titles include Gameloft’s Minion Rush based on the Despicable Me movies and Reliance Games’ Real Steel game. Fox Digital Entertainment, the partner for Pocket Gems, has also had a few other movie and TV-based mobile gaming hits, including Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Rovio’s Angry Birds Rio, and TinyCo’s Family Guy: the Quest for Stuff.
But the Night at the Museum films — which have generated more than $1.5 billion at the box office — have never had a mobile game before. It uses the locations in all of the films and embeds them in game scenes, said Austin Walterman, product manager at Pocket Gems, in an interview with GamesBeat. Pocket Gems started working on the game around July, so it has been done with a quick development cycle.
“There have been a few successes and the quality of the games have been high,” Khalfan said in an interview. “You’ll see more of this from us in the future. We worked closely with the filmmakers to make it feel like it’s part of the franchise.”
Walterman said in an interview the company will operate the game as a service, shipping more content as gamers run through it. The third film starts off in New York and primarily takes place at The British Museum in London. It’s now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Pocket Gems will get the benefit of being mentioned in ads for the film, which will be ubiquitous during the holidays.
The game’s team size wasn’t all that big, Khalfan said. And Pocket Gems had about six months to work on the title. Overall, Pocket Gems has about 175 people.
“We’re huge fans of Night at the Museum and are thrilled to help create an all new adventure in its universe,” said Ben Liu, CEO of Pocket Gems, in a statement. “Night at the Museum: Hidden Treasures will be fun for fans of the film franchise and the hidden-objects genre.”
Fans will be able to interact with film favorite characters such as Theodore Roosevelt, Rexy the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Jedediah Smith.
“Night at the Museum: Hidden Treasures captures the spectacle and poignancy of the upcoming film, while engaging players with the same adventure and discovery elements that audiences have come to expect and enjoy from the franchise. We’re excited to partner with Pocket Gems to release this brand new mobile game to Night at the Museum fans all over the world,” said Shawn Levy, the director and producer of the film, in a statement.