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E3 2011: Star Trek warps Paramount into video game business

June 10, 2011 |  6:00 am

Paramount Pictures is boldly going into the video game business.

Marking a shift in strategy after years of licensing its movie brands to outside companies, the studio is making Star Trek the first big-budget console video game that it will finance and release.

The game takes place in the same science fiction universe depicted in director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 movie reboot but has an original story. It will be released next year to coincide with the opening of Paramount’s “Star Trek” movie sequel. The game was publicly shown for the first time this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles.

Paramount has previously made low-budget video games based on its movies for digital distribution and smartphones but has never taken the plunge on a high-quality title for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. Those typically cost tens of millions of dollars to produce.

“We hope this will be the first of several movie-based games that we deliver,” said Thomas Lesinski, president of Paramount Digital Entertainment. “There hasn’t been a quality ‘Star Trek’ game in a very long time, but the franchise has great appeal to the gaming community.”

Other studios and entertainment companies have taken different approaches to the video game industry. Walt Disney Co. recently cut costs in its gaming unit and shifted the focus from consoles to online. Warner Bros. operates its own mid-size publishing operation. Universal Pictures financed a console game based on its movie “Wanted” but hasn’t produced more after that title sold poorly. Other studios exclusively license their films to traditional video game publishers.

Paramount began production on the Star Trek game in early 2010 with Canadian development studio Digital Extremes. The two-player game features the Starship Enterprise’s Captain Kirk and Spock, who are expected to be portrayed by the film’s stars, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

The last Star Trek console video game was released in 2007 by publisher Bethesda Softworks, which briefly controlled the science-fiction license.

In 2009, Paramount released a poorly reviewed downloadable game along with Abrams’ “Star Trek” movie.

--Ben Fritz


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Photo: A scene from the Star Trek game. Credit: Paramount Pictures.