April 20, 2007
Endemol and Electronic Arts Team Up for Virtual Me

An interesting deal has been struck between a major television producer and a major video games producer with the intent to create a project that will create gaming versions of various game shows and reality television products, in an attempt to create more interactive gaming experiences for extant media properties.

Endemol will be partnering with Electronic Arts to create gaming situations through which players can create avatars to participate in virtual versions of popular Endemol shows, such as Deal or No Deal and Fame Academy and will launch through one of Endemol's biggest hits, Big Brother.

The collaborative project has been initially titled Virtual Me. As Mark Hefflinger succinctly reports it on the Digital Media Wire, "The companies will form an integrated team to create entertainment for TV, online and other platforms."

The press release touts that the concept "bridges the divide between traditional TV and videogames." It goes on to say that "the two companies will create an integrated team to share expertise in their respective fields and develop entertainment formats and experiences for a wide range of platforms, including TV and online."

See screen shots at C3 affiliate Ilya Vedrashko's Advertising Lab.

Keith Stuart with the Gamesblog for Guardian Unlimited writes, "If it genuinely contains competitive elements based around Endemol's TV brands, we're into interesting territory, where consumers watch and interact with their favourite shows almost seamlessly."

I'm not sure yet, just with this announcement, how the EA/Endemol partnership will work and how these games will line up with the television shows they are based on, but it will be an interesting phenomenon to keep your eyes on. Definitely, just for the magnitude of such a major television producer and video game company teaming up, the story will have a major bearing on future integrated media deals.

Much of this will have to do with how the creative powers on each company's side of this Virtual Me partnership will line up. Will it be EA's job to just create virtual worlds that align as closely as possible with the Endemol properties? Will EA creatives have any control in return in the development of Endemol TV shows? With "convergence" projects like these, questions of creative control rise up not only by letting fans play in the virtual world but by figuring out exactly how two major powers in their respective media industries create a relationship to work together.

See Katherine Noyes' story from TechNewsWorld for more background on avatar-based games.

Thanks to Ivan Askwith for directing me to this story.