For the mobile game version of Pixar’s new movie Brave, Disney looked for help from the developers behind a big iOS hit — Imangi Studios, the creators of Temple Run.
Bart Decrem, the former Tapulous CEO who now runs Disney’s mobile division, says the company has already done its share of movie tie-in games on mobile, and they all followed a similar pattern — big downloads initially, followed by a rapid dropoff. His conclusion: “What we’ve done there hasn’t been big enough.”
Initially, Decrem says he wasn’t even planning to release a Brave game, because he didn’t want to do another mediocre movie tie-in, and there wasn’t enough time to do something better. Meanwhile, he’d become interested in Temple Run’s success, and it was the Imangi team that was excited about combining Temple Run and Brave.
The Disney mobile team brought a group tech journalists to Pixar headquarters last week to show off the game (as well as 30 minutes of Brave the movie, which looks fun, gorgeous, and more Disney-like than any of Pixar’s past films). If you’ve played Temple Run, the game mechanics will be pretty familiar — you run through the forest, jumping, sliding, and dodging around obstacles, while also grabbing coins. However, the setting has been changed from an ancient temple to the Scottish forest, and instead of playing an explorer being chased by evil monkeys, you take control of Brave’s protagonist Merida as she flees from the “demon bear” Mordu. There’s also a new archery feature, where you can fire your bow at targets for extra points as you run.
After Decrem’s talk about not thinking big enough, a reskinned version of an existing game may seem like a bit of a letdown — and indeed, that’s how I felt when I watched the Temple Run: Brave demo projected on the big Pixar screen. However, it’s a proven and quite addictive game mechanic. (Temple Run was the #1 free iOS app for a while, and it currently has 16 million daily active users) And when I tried the game out for myself, I became so absorbed in running and jumping that I actually dropped the iPad. (Yes, I’m a klutz.)
A couple of the filmmakers behind Brave also stopped by the presentation and said they’d worked to make sure the game’s look matched the movie — for example, co-director Steve Purcell teased production designer Steve Pilcher for his need to add mist to everything. (Purcell who has a history with games, having worked on several of LucasArts’ classic adventure titles, including Sam & Max Hit The Road, based on his own comics.)
Temple Run: Brave will cost 99 cents — that’s more than Temple Run, which is free, but Imangi co-founder Keith Shepherd says they view this as a “premium version” of the game, not a replacement.