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VIDEO GAMES

Licensed Properties Play at E3

Seventy thousand-plus people, including 20,000 fans, flocked to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles last week for the digital entertainment industry’s annual parade of video game properties, both new and well known.

The hot topic of the show was Virtual Reality (VR) with Sony announcing that its PlayStation VR headset for PS4 will become available Oct. 13, priced at $500 and major game properties getting the VR treatment on platforms ranging from PlayStation VR to the more pricy HTC Vive ($800) and Oculus Rift ($600). Deloitte predicts that VR will be a $1 billion market in 2016, with about $700 million coming from hardware and the rest from content.

While VR holds enormous potential for consumers to interact with their favorite properties more intimately than ever before—and not just in games, but also in retail settings and more—the technology is still in its very early stages in terms of its consumer market. Nevertheless, top-shelf properties getting the VR gaming treatment through 2017 include Batman Arkham VR, Star Wars: Battlefront X-wing VR Mission (not a whole game)and Final Fantasy XV VR (also not a whole game) for PlayStation VR; Star Trek: Bridge Crew for PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift; and Fallout 4 for HTC Vive.

Other licensed properties in the spotlight at E3:

  • The Legend of Zelda–Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is due in 2017 for both Wii U and Nintendo’s new NX platform was described by many as the biggest title of E3, with critics applauding the game because it looks and plays unlike previous Zelda games—changes that are seen as necessary to introduce the series to new players.
  • Sklyanders—Activision Blizzard pioneered the so-called toys-to-life market with Skylanders in 2011. Now it’s taking the franchise to TV with Skylanders Academy, which will debut on Netflix this fall. Netflix has taken two seasons of the show, which is the first production from the game company’s Activision Blizzard Studios launched last year to create original content based on games.
  • Star Wars – Electronic Arts brought lots of enthusiasm for Star Wars games, but few details to E3. What’s clear is that the pace of new game rollouts will keep up, or close to it, with Disney/Lucasfilm’s plans for one franchise film a year for the foreseeable future.
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