- NBCUniversal has adapted several of its TV and movie franchises into an interactive storytelling experience that lets mobile users pick an avatar and play in episodes of original choose-your-own-adventure tales. The free "Series: Your Story Universe" has stories based on "Saved by the Bell," "Vanderpump Rules," "Law & Order," "The Breakfast Club," "Bridesmaids," "Sixteen Candles" and "Xena: Warrior Princess," Variety reported.
- The company's Universal Games and Digital Platforms group will update the iOS and Android app with new episodes each week. The selection also includes an entirely original story called "Legacy & Love," and the company plans to introduce additional shows for the gaming platform.
- Although the games are free, players can pay anywhere from 50 cents to $1 for in-game gems that can redeemed to accelerate the pace of the narrative or to buy bonus content. Endless Entertainment, an interactive storytelling company, developed the game for Universal with technology that lets artists and writers create branching narratives quickly.
Storytelling games are a popular genre of mobile apps, perhaps best exemplified by "Kim Kardsahian: Hollywood" that game developer Glu Mobile introduced in 2014. The role-playing game based on the reality-TV star helped to define the genre when it became somewhat of a surprise hit. It was the fifth-highest-grossing game in Apple's App Store and reached $200 million in revenue by 2017. While storytelling games extend the shelf-life of TV and movie properties, they also can provide an additional return from the investment in content production, marketing and distribution.
The "Series" game is the biggest rollout for Universal Games since its 2018 launch "Jurassic World Alive," an augmented reality (AR) game based on the movie. The group decided to create storytelling apps after seeing the popularity of Episode Interactive's "Episode" and Pixelberry Studios' "Choices: Stories You Play." Each of those games has generated more than $200 million in revenue to date, per Sensor Tower data cited by Variety. The researcher estimated 139 million users have downloaded "Episode" and have spent approximately $256 million in the game, while "Choices" has raked in about $231 million among its 63.5 million installs worldwide. These results underscore why entertainment studios and brands are working to add more interactive and gamified content into their marketing mix.
"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" benefited from the star's continual plugging of the game on social media channels. Universal is taking a similar approach by promoting the games with video spots from actors and celebrities who appear in the "Series" app. Mario Lopez, who starred in "Saved by the Bell," and Lisa Vanderpump, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval from Bravo's reality show "Vanderpump Rules" appear in promotional videos, using their star power and large social networks to extend the reach of the campaign's promotion. Bravo will air the "Vanderpump" spot to reach fans of the show who may want to participate in a more interactive experience with its personalities.