With the success of book-to-screen adaptations, particularly on the young adult side (Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, now The Hunger Games), it’s no wonder that HBO smelled a hit in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series when it bought the rights seven years ago.
The inevitable move to gaming — the first book is called Game of Thrones, after all — was there and EA had sewn up all the game rights from the beginning, says the HBO series co-executive producer Vince Gerardis at X-Summit in Toronto. But, after time, EA let the rights lapse.
That left the door wide open for Cyanide Studio. Montreal-based studio director Yves Bordeleau says he “immediately jumped in” and game production on the RPG was based solely on the books, as the cameras has not yet begun to roll on the TV series.
Martin was also an active player during the process. “We worked with him to create a new story and characters, but the same mood and feel of the series is there,” said Bordeleau, adding that the story-driven RPG is similar to the books in players move through chapters of the game.
It also takes place during the same time frame of the show and makes use of the same musical score. However, it tells a much different story, exploring the past of the two main characters, which fits into the chronological order of the first book, that then ties into the HBO series.
During rights negotiations, HBO allowed the deal to happen without taking control of the game rights.
“I negotiated hard because I knew the IP was valuable,” Gerardis said, adding that the business model with HBO is not the same as it is with a feature studio. “George gets this stuff, he can see how the game strategy would translate into entertainment.”
Moderator Lenny Brown, THQ’s VP of creative and business development, noted that his game publisher recently signed a deal with Random House and asked whether this is the next logical step for the games industry.
Bordeleau says that Cyanide’s headquarters in Paris has been collaborating with the TV production crew on the game. With a multi-million dollar budget, it’s the biggest game the studio has worked on to date.
The game will be available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a scheduled Q1 2012 release. Gerardis says that mobile and tablet-based content is also a possibility.