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Videogame Company Teams Up With Random House In Hopes of Launching Billion Dollar Hits

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Companies that manufacture those weird little paper and text things that are kind of bound together like a pamphlet (think they’re called buks?) are ramping up efforts to boost revenue from alternative industries.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Random House, a division of Bertelsmann, has partnered with video game producer THQ to help bring some of its titles to the small screen.

“The two companies said they intend to create a wide spectrum of original works that include novels, graphic novels and digital books, as wells as online, console and mobile-phone games, the Journal reports. And of course, “Hollywood may participate as well.”

Deals like this could have a serious impact on publisher’s bottom lines. The video game industry generated around $15 billion in revenue last year, according to the NPD group. While that’s down 1% from 2009, there are plenty of good reasons to suspect that gaming will bounce back with the advancement of hand-held devices. Plus, at a time when video games are getting increasingly dense with complex narratives and storylines, a marriage between gaming and literature doesn’t seem so far off.

For THQ, the deal offers few risks and serious potential. Lenny Brown, the company’s director of creative and business development, told the Journal that “the Holy Grail here would be for Random House to produce a book that sells well, with us ultimately investing $35 million in a triple-A console game backed by a $12 million marketing campaign that draws a commitment from Hollywood for a movie or television event.”

Now certainly there have already been plenty of great book-to-video game crossovers—James Bond, Harry Potter, The Grapes Of Wrath (Farmville?). But given Random House’s extensive back catalogue of classic literature, THQ could find itself producing some of the wildest, and in my opinion, most thought-provoking titles to hit the market in years.

Here are just a few Random House titles that are practically begging to be made into video games, and frankly, the sales pitches write themselves!

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—and it was also the time to kick some serious French aristocratic ass! Play as either Charles Darnay, Sydney Carton, or one of the other 300 minor characters in this classic as you quest to complete the French revolution all in time for midday tea.”

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

“Your name? Elizabeth Bennet. Your goal? World domination…by way of titillating the masses with your unstoppable morality, your relentless adherence to manners, and your 9 mm glock that has been bestowed upon you through a magical time portal! Attack, but softly, softly!!”

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce

“The first videogame to exist exclusively in the mazes of thought! You are Stephen Dedalus, a young, fairly whiney Irish kid who must dare to question not only your national identity, but also the Catholic Church. All the while, you must attempt to kindle your creative spirits before you plunge into the depths of a lifetime of paralysis and subtle regret!”

On second thought, maybe classic lit doesn’t make for great games.

Case in point, the actual videogame version of The Great Gatsby:

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.
TAGS:  BOOKS, VIDEO GAMES    SOURCE:   Wall Street Journal