Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Son Has Found Defiance

While he is indeed entering adolescence, Defiance is not how he treats his parents; rather, it is a multi-media piece of entertainment that has entered our home.  Even before I knew of the TV series that premiered this week on SyFy, I knew about the game.  He pre-ordered it from Amazon and waited patiently (and a little impatiently) for its arrival to play on X-Box.  He got an early chance to play an online version before its arrival too.  And he was clear that we needed to record the series for his viewing pleasure.  He was hooked.

What is Defiance?  I have no idea.  I haven't watched him play it or had a chance to watch the show with him.  But I agree that it is more than just a TV show or online game.  "The game and show have been pitched as groundbreaking transmedia, thanks to how they have been designed to complement each other and build out the world of its characters. And digging into the way both elements have been created to co-exist, it’s hard to deny the potential in the approach."  To make this work takes a lot of collaboration.  Plot points must co-exist both on the TV screen and online.  For viewers and players like my son, they make for a far richer experience.  Matching game play to linear viewing may be the biggest challenge of them all.

But does it translate into greater monetization?  The game side of the business model doesn't seem to need a lot of pushing to do well.  Some game success can be equated to box office size returns.  But rating should swell if users are engaged with the online characters and buy in to them on the TV screen as well.   "That difference, according to (Syfy head of original content Mark) Stern, is by design. '[The show] is going for a broader, older demo, but [the game] is going for a younger and more male-skewed audience,' he said. 'Hopefully we’ll be able to pull more of that younger demo into our channel and push older audience into the game.'”  Building interest to the demographics is key to higher revenue returns.

Content creators are sure to watch this series and measure the value it produces.  The success of this "transmedia" approach may just foretell the future of television programming.  How well it works remains to be seen, but it may just be the beginning of more collaborative online and on-screen ventures.

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