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Microsoft announced today that it’s launching eight new cars for Forza Horizon 2 for the Xbox One — with cars from Universal Pictures’ Furious 7 film.
The timing is good for this licensing deal, as Furious 7 made than $392 million in revenue from its opening weekend in theaters worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The film is popular in part because of it features the last appearance of star Paul Walker, who perished in a car crash midway through filming.
While Microsoft clearly wasn’t in the running to do a full Xbox One game on Furious 7, it is interesting that it was able to move quickly to launch a $5 car pack (available today) as downloadable content (DLC) for people who already purchased Forza Horizon 2. To me, that suggests that DLC doesn’t have to be planned nearly as far in advance as full video game licenses. And it may be a way for video game publishers to compete for audiences where licenses matter, as in the case of Furious 7, which has had a bigger opening than previous films in that franchise.
Most licensing deals happen with mobile games these days, since it takes less time to build those games. But studios can also quickly produce console and DLC, and it could be a good, if forgotten, way to add branding that will help with a game’s awareness and a way to bring back gamers who stopped playing.
This deal obviously took advance planning. It started with the launch of Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, a stand-alone free expansion that launched days before the film. That set up the main game for a 20 percent discount deal. And now the marketing also includes the paid DLC.
The cars include the 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, 2014 Maserati Ghibli S, 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, 2015 Dodge Charger R/T, and the 2015 Dodge Challenger. The free car for the month includes the 1998 Toyota Supra.
That’s a lot of car companies to negotiate licenses with. All of the cars are authentic re-creations. The amount of work involved isn’t trivial, but Microsoft’s studio is capable of turning out new cars every month.
“This is a brilliant use of cross-promotion, especially given the current success around Furious 7,” said Wanda Meloni, analyst at M2 Advisory Group. “It much easier sell through for bridging the fan base between a big film entity with an favorite game franchise.”
P.J. McNealy, analyst and chief executive of Digital World Research, said, “Everyone is walking a minefield because it’s a rare day that a major intellectual property such as a movie is launched after the death of a major actor. The bottom line is respect comes first, followed by numbers. That said, the numbers were pretty spectacular this past weekend. Any gaming related content would need to follow the broad umbrella put out for the launch of the movie, and it’s probably a pretty good financial opportunity without seeming completely capitalistic.”
And Joseph Dodson, analyst at EEDAR, said, “The Furious 7 DLC is part of what could be described as a licensed relaunch for Forza Horizon 2. Overall, this approach should generate a significant lift in month-over-month unit sales for Forza Horizon 2 on both the Xbox One and the Xbox 360. We also expect the Furious 7 Car Pack to attach at a high rate.”
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