E3: Godfather games get whacked; Wild Things at Warner Bros.
In an interview at E3 on Wednesday, Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games label, said that after April's release of The Godfather II, his company is finished making video games based on the revered film series. "We're not going to do another one," he said flatly. He then noted that the company has no Godfather titles on its current production schedule, which extends out three years.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Paramount's digital entertainment group didn't share Gibeau's perspective. "Plans for the next Godfather game have not been decided," she told The Times.
By this point, the story started to resemble one of those public gaffes by a politician after which his press secretaries scamble to backpedal and issue statements that what their boss meant to say was ... . An EA publicist e-mailed this reporter to clarify Gibeau's statement.
"We do not currently have a Godfather game in development," she said. "Nothing has been decided as to future sequels. Paramount is a great partner."
Despite the statement, EA appears to be done with The Godfather. Its decision was likely motivated by weak sales for The Godfather II, which sold only 241,000 units in the U.S. when it was released in April, as well as an increasing focus on intellectual properties it owns.
In the past few years, the company has given up on major licenses it previously controlled, including "James Bond" and "The Lord of the Rings." The only two Hollywood properties for which EA, one of the two biggest video game publishers in the U.S., now owns interactive rights are "Harry Potter" and the Jason Bourne spy novels on which Universal's films are based.
"The bloom is really off the rose for licensed games," Gibeau said.
Much of that slack, however, is being picked up by movie studios themselves as they invest more in games. At Warner Bros.' E3 booth, there's a new title that wasn't on the company's lineup just a week ago: Where the Wild Things Are.
Previously set to be published by Brash Entertainment, the game was left without a home when Brash went out of business last November. But after weighing its options and talking to other potential publishers, Warner Bros. decided to publish the game itself this October, along with its Spike Jonze-directed film based on the classic children's book.
Warner Bros. has been adding a number of big film properties to its video game slate, including EA's castaway Lord of the Rings. Its only major franchise still with an outside publisher is Harry Potter, which EA has licensed through 2011, when the last movie comes out. Will the interactive rights return to Warner Bros. after that?
"We are in discussions on this," Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment president Martin Tremblay said in an interview at E3. "All options are open."
— Ben Fritz
Top photo: The Godfather II. Credit: Electronic Arts. Bottom photo: Where the Wild Things Are at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment's E3 booth. Credit: Ben Fritz / Los Angeles Times