Universal Wants To Bring The Fast And The Furious, Other Franchises To Console
News broke this week that Universal is offering a challenge for studios, with winners being rewarded with the use of IP like Back to the Future and Jaws, but there's more going on with Universal and games than just that challenge. We recently visited Universal Studios and played the upcoming park builder Jurassic Park Evolution (you can watch us play the game here). One of the attendees at that event was Universal's freshly appointed new executive vice president of worldwide games, Chris Heatherly. He eagerly explained his plan for a new beginning to Universal's approach with the game industry.
“The goal is to make a bigger push into gaming," Heatherly says. "Just cause we have so much IP that’s unexploited in games, but it’s a really great fit. We have the mega-franchises like Jurassic World and Fast and the Furious, we have stuff like the Universal monsters that goes back decades, we have the horror stuff with Blumhouse, we have the animated stuff with Illumination and Dreamworks. It’s really a broad portfolio." Even if the idea of a new Minions game doesn't get you excited, Universal owns a lot of fascinating IP like The Purge and Get Out.
Heatherly was brought on board to expand the games team. He says that by the end of this year they'll have hired nearly 100 positions like producers, game designers, and marketers. Right now the team is only publishing games on mobile, like the upcoming Jurassic World Alive AR game co-published with Ludia. Since their IP requires so many different areas of expertise, from sim games to racing, Universal plans to license out their IP to the "best developers" for large games in the console space and support the teams with marketing efforts and access to Hollywood talent like Jeff Goldblum.
“When you have IP, you don’t need to own the development capacity," Heatherly says. Universal wants to get momentum with strong partners for now and then think about owning game studios down the road. “We'll be going deeper into the console space in the next couple of years."
A recent effort from this push into gaming was one of last year's strangest announcements. Wayforward's The Mummy Demastered was a Castlevania-esque game based very loosely on The Mummy reboot. “We loved that game," Heatherly says. "They did a fantastic job on it. It was a nice homage to Castlevania and a great fit with that property.
“Later in the year we’ll be able to talk about some of the things we’re doing in VR and even on voice platforms. Wherever people are playing games, we want them to be able to play Jurassic games... Expect a ton more [games], and we’re going to make high-quality stuff and we’re going to work with great partners.”