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Thursday, May 27, 2004
 
Warner Brothers Takes Unprecedented Step In Game Licensing
7:16 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | Comment on this story

In a bold and unprecedented move, officials at Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, the prolific film studio's licensing arm, are fluctuating the licensing fees paid by game publishers for the studio's properties, based on how well the resultant games are received.

The new scheme, according to a report in the Hollywood Reporter, is based on how well the resultant games are received by game reviewers. According to senior VP Jason Hall, future Warner Brothers licensed games must achieve at least a 70% rating from such game review sites as GameRankings.com, Metacritic.com and GameStats.com. Failure for a game to do so will incur scalable increases in royalty fees.

The move is a direct attempt by the studio to increase the quality of PC and console games. According to Hall -

The game industry has had its time to exploit movie studios all day long and to get away with producing inferior products. But, with Warner Brothers, no more. Those days are over. And we mean it. This isn't just lip service. Honestly, the bad games are over.
Reaction to the news was immediate and mixed. Bruno Bonnell, chairman and CEO of Atari:
I will never, ever sign this sort of agreement, which effectively insults our business.
Atari, publishers of the recently released Enter The Matrix, saw sales of over $250 million USD for the title, despite the game's sub 70% ratings. While Bonnell admitted that not all his company's games are hits, he maintains that Atari does its best to make games faithful to the licensed properties.
Are we proud of everything we do? In most cases, yes. Do we fail sometimes? Sometimes. Do we feel we have to pay because we fail and because the ratings reflect that? No, absolutely not.
While most studios agree with Hall that bad video games damage a studio's intellectual property, and that the move will likely force game publishers to take another look at the quality of their games, no other licensor are planning to follow the WB lead.

Hollywood Reporter


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Archives  News  Warner Brothers Takes Unprecedented Step In Game Licensing