Paramount Pictures' Star Trek video game will challenge the stigma associated with licensed games when it is released next month, according to the SVP of marketing, Brian Miller.
Speaking to Polygon during a demo of the upcoming third-person action adventure set in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek universe, Miller said both Paramount and the game's developer, Digital Extremes, were aware of the stigma of games based on movies, but both were still determined to make the game and "get it right."
"When we look at the stigma of movie-based games, we can kind of break down those challenges into three categories," Miller said. "One is there was never enough time to make a game that could stand up there with other AAA games. By the time you get all the assets from filming and you're ready to make the game, you've got about 12 months before the film comes out."
The second reason, Miller said, is working with the right creative people. Often, studios, publishers and license holders will clash over ideas, and the final result is a product of everyone's compromised vision.
"The game isn't being 'cranked out quickly as a throwaway piece of merchandise.'"
"And the third is just funding it correctly," he said.
According to Miller, Paramount Pictures addressed each of these problems early on to ensure that the game would not be marred by the issues that movie-based games typically experience. Star Trek has been in active development for three years, which Miller said is "an eternity" for a movie game. It's being published by Paramount, who holds the license to Star Trek and is responsible for the feature films. It's also being funded by Paramount, so the game isn't being "cranked out quickly as a throwaway piece of merchandise."
On the creative side, Miller said the studios involved also looked at what didn't work in previous movie games to learn what not to do.
"When we looked back at some of the movie games and why they didn't work, one of the reasons was you were basically aping what viewers had already seen," Miller said. "If you made a game directly off the last movie — now they go to the space dive, then they're gonna go to the ice planet — there was no chance to change up the narrative and give a gamer an experience story-wise."
Instead of basing the game on the 2009 film or the upcoming Star Trek Into the Darkness, the Star Trek video game is set between the two films, which gives the developers a chance to tell a new story that is also canon.
"It's important for us to explain to everybody that what we're trying to do is create a completely new, untold adventure of Kirk and Spock," Miller said. "We didn't want to ape what was in the last movie, we didn't want to try to repeat what you're going to see in the new film. We wanted to make sure that we had a game where you're watching this real battle back and forth between Kirk and Spock as they come across an enemy we've pulled from Canon to bring up-to-date in this new game."
Miller emphasized the importance of having both Kirk and Spock as playable characters in the game because the chemistry between them is a large part of what makes Star Trek appealing. Two players can play together in co-op mode, and in single-player mode an AI will control the other character. Both characters play differently, with Kirk exuding a brash, cowboy-like personality and Spock taking a more considered, logical approach.
When Paramount's Star Trek video game releases next month, Miller hopes that players will feel as they've gone on a new and authentic adventure with Kirk and Spock, and experience a story that can stand alongside the films.
Star Trek will release in North America on April 23 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.