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Telltale: Licensed games aren't dead

Simpsons, South Park deals on its wishlist.

A number of publishers have recently proclaimed that the traditional movie tie-in's days are numbered. Not only do they routinely getting a critical shoeing but people just aren't buying them anymore.

Not so, says Telltale Games, the developer behind the recent Back to the Future game and a forthcoming Jurassic Park title, among others. Its CEO claims that if done right, licensed titles can be both commercially and critically successful.

In February, THQ boss Brian Farrell claimed that the "'see the movie, play the game' experience" no longer worked, while former Take-Two CEO Ben Feder announced last year that "licensing content is dead".

Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, Dan Connors offered up hard numbers to refute those claims, revealing that Telltale's revenues shot up 90 per cent in 2010 to $10 million, mainly off the back of its licensed work.

"On the one side you're hearing all this talk about licensing not being viable anymore and it can't succeed," he explained. "In our mind, of course they can succeed. There's a big audience that's interested in this content. You just have to build it right for them."

Telltale's most recent tie-in, the aforementioned Back to the Future effort, scored a commendable 7/10 from Eurogamer's Christian Donlan late last year.

Connors went on to explain that working with established brands offered greater security than original IP, while alerting gamers to its own projects - such as Puzzle Agent.

"Original content from a gaming perspective is pretty romantic, but it's pretty difficult," he said.

"Franchises have always been a part of our strategy. We want to create great interactive stories and we think there's a wealth of great stories that exist in the [film and television] worlds that need interactive stories - and we can supply that.

"As far as being able to establish a brand, every time we connect to a franchise, we're associating ourselves with something that has a lot of fans – and we can reach out and introduce ourselves to them and let them know we do other things."

Telltale currently has eight titles on its slate – six of them licensed – with the most recent announcement being an episodic Law & Order game due later this year.

As for the future, it seems the studio has a long wishlist of brands it would like to work with.

"Right now, we're looking at movies that are coming out in the next 12 to 18 months and looking at the cartoon series as far as what we're going to [do next].

"We capture comedy in such a way that the South Parks, Simpsons and Family Guys of the world seem perfect for us. That's something we're always thinking about [though no deals have been struck]."