For years Telltale Games has made cross-media video games, with their most popular series ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ and ‘The Wolf Among Us’ all based upon comic book series, novels, and TV shows alike. Now they want to take their episodic narrative games a step further – no longer just cross-media inspired, but a true hybrid of video games and television, or as Telltale’s CEO Kevin Bruner puts it in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “Our goal is to create products that have a legitimate chance of winning both a Golden Globe and a Game of the Year.”
Lionsgate, the production company responsible for ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Orange is the New Black,’ has invested significantly in Telltale to prove just how serious Telltale is about this project, and their choice in Lionsgate is a fitting one: “Lionsgate has already made bold moves with shows like ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ which aren’t just distributed via emerging digital channels, but are actually written, designed and produced to leverage that environment,” Bruner said. “That thinking obviously resonated strongly with us. As we explored various opportunities in gaming we both quickly realized there was much more here than simply licensing properties.”
Telltale is calling this new project the “Super Show,” and if they get it right then the finish product will not just be a TV show with interactive parts, or a video game with some scribed cinematic scenes, but a true hybrid of the two.
Bruner went into the specifics on how they plan this Super Show to play out: “Each Super Show episode [the interactive game and the scripted episode] will be released as a package designed so that you can consume the interactive portion or watch the scripted show portion in any order you’d like. For instance, if you play the interactive episode first, certain elements of the scripted episode portion will be tailored to reflect some choices made in your interactive play through. If you watch the show before playing, some elements in the interactive portions may be presented differently than if you played first. The interactive episodes will never release without a scripted episode, they will always come out together.”
Telltale has hired two new CEOs to carry out this project – John Riccitiello, former CEO for EA and current CEO for Unity, and Jon Feltheimer, a CEO for Lionsgate. “Jon Feltheimer and John Riccitiello have decades of experience delivering premium entertainment to audiences everywhere,” Bruner said.
This is not the first time a video game/TV show mixture has been attempted – the ‘Defiance’ series was meant to tie together a television show and MMO game that integrated and reflected upon the events of the two mediums, but ultimately the two series have separated from each other. However, with Telltale Game’s long experience with cross-media, episodic, narrative gaming, along with their partnership with Lionsgate, there is more hope that their “Super Show” can succeed.