Universal Games and Digital Platforms is tapping NBCUniversal’s huge set of entertainment intellectual property to fuel storytelling experiences for players, who can make decisions and choose narrative paths that are based on their favorite TV shows and movies.
It is modeled after games like Choices and Episode, which are more like interactive storytelling platforms than games. But the new part is combining that genre with IPs that aren’t easily adapted for mobile games, said Chris Heatherly, executive vice president of Universal Games and Digital Platforms, in an interview with GamesBeat at our GamesBeat Summit 2019 event.
“Not every IP make sense as its own standalone game, but many work for the interactive storytelling genre,” Heatherly said. “We have so much more IP to work with.”
Series will be a mobile entertainment platform that lets players engage with original content inspired by NBCUniversal’s portfolio, including Vanderpump Rules, Saved by the Bell, Law & Order, The Breakfast Club, Bridesmaids, Sixteen Candles, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Series also features original stories that introduce players to new characters and fiction, starting with Legacy & Love, which centers on an intriguing rags-to-riches tale.
Pocket Gems’ rival title, Episode, has been downloaded by 139 million App Store and Google Play users worldwide according to measurement firm Sensor Tower. Players have spent approximately $256.3 million so far in the game, Sensor Tower said.
And Choices has approximately 63.5 million installs globally across both stores. Its players have spent approximately $231 million since launch, Sensor Tower said.
Combined spending in both games so far in 2019 has reached an estimated $60 million worldwide across both stores.
In Series, players start by creating their own customized avatar and star in new, authentic stories based on popular film and TV characters, and original stories. As fans progress through the game, they get to make decisions that impact the narrative and personalize their journey. Immersive new episodes and properties will be added to Series on a regular basis.
To celebrate the global launch of the game, stars from NBCUniversal’s popular shows return to their roles in a series of new videos. Mario Lopez invites fans to play Series in his signature Saved by the Bell Bayside High letterman jacket, while Lisa Vanderpump, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval from Vanderpump Rules must make a critical decision to “Whine or Wine.”
Series is free to download now on the App Store and Google Play, with in-app purchases. Heatherly joined Universal about 2.5 years ago, after Disney decided not to make its own games.
“Universal had been doing licensing but wanted to flip that and do more game publishing,” Heatherly said. “They saw the opportunity.”
Now Universal has 65 people on its game publishing team, including veterans from Disney, Scopely, Jam City and others.