Transmedia Case Study – Defiance, a Coordinated TV Series and Video Game

Syfy’s Defiance (Photo from AdAge)

A few months ago I wrote about Transmedia – see “Transmedia – Opportunity or Trend?”, storytelling defined as telling a story that extends across multiple media platforms (for television, it’s going beyond the on-air show). The post briefly mentioned  Syfy’s groundbreaking idea Defiance, since there was little information at the time. But over the last few weeks a number of articles have come out talking about the concept. Here are additional highlights, courtesy AdAge:

Show Premise:  Defiance is set in San Francisco after aliens arrive. The show centers on aliens and humans living together on Earth 30 years from now. The two species struggle to build a society amid devastation after an epic war.

Concept: It is a coordinated TV series and multiplayer online game. The project will involve the plot points appearing on the TV show and in the game at about the same time. According to details from AdAge, the show and the game will influence one another and evolve simultaneously.

Partnerships: Syfy partnered with video-game developer Trion Worlds, to develop the first multi-platform shooter MMO. According to Trion World’s website: “the game combines the intense action of a console third-person shooter, with the persistence, scale, and customization of an MMO, while its TV counterpart exudes the scope, story, and drama of a classic sci-fi epic. Being developed for the PC, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, DEFIANCE unites the MMORPG and Shooter game genres across the most popular platforms.”

Marketing Opportunities: It looks like brands will have several opportunities to integrate themselves into the gaming environment and perhaps even the show. Similar to brand integration into the plot’s theme.

“The game could have a highway with rest-stop signs, and one of the signs could have a Burger King symbol,” said Nicholas Beliaeff, senior VP-development for Trion Worlds. “When they get off the highway, they find a Burger King that survived the universal war.”

Have a look at Definace Combat Gameplay Teaser Trailer. Syfy expects to introduce “Defiance”  in April 2013.

On first glance, the game looks a little intense than I imagined. Definitely targeting men and aimed at helping sci-fi target bond with the show. I wonder if this strategy has anything to do with Terra Nova. Fox’s big budget extravaganza, produced by Steven Spielberg, was cancelled after its first season. It would be interesting to see how the show shapes the show and vice-versa. But it might be too early to make any judgements, we will just have to wait till 2013.

So is this the future of television and storytelling? Do you think a casual game rather than a hardcore MMO game would be a better fit and help Syfy engage with a broader audience base? Chime in via the comments.

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