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Gaming with Thrones

Back in early September, the news swept the fandom that French/Canadian game company Cyanide Studios, creators of the real time strategy game Game of Thrones: Genesis and a then-untitled RPG based on A Song of Ice and Fire, had basically turned that RPG into the official HBO Game of Thrones game, with access to actors from the show (for voice acting), music, and more.

Now Cyanide and Game of Thrones producer (and agent for George R.R. Martin) Vince Gerardis revealed more about their work with the license at X-Summit, and some very interesting details came out along the way. Live-tweeting the event were Nicole Winchester of the CBC and Interactive Ontario, who were sources for the following details.

According to their reports, one of the more interesting details that I don’t think anyone realized is the fact that Electronic Arts apparently had initial rights to A Song of Ice and Fire games “for years”, but apparently they let them lapse roughly around the same time as Gerardis sold rights to HBO for the eventual Game of Thrones series. EA seemed to not have a great interest in developing the property into games, even following the #1 NYT Bestseller reception of A Feast for Crows or HBO showing interest in a development deal… which, in retrospect, was probably a mistake on EA’s part. Given the current boom in interest in the series, thanks to HBO and the release of A Dance with Dragons, the property has fresh vigor.

That, of course, is where Cyanide steps in—after years of little to no movement on gaming rights, suddenly the little studio-that-could convinced Martin of licensing the rights to two separate games. It has to be said, Game of Thrones: Genesis received a mixed reception—praise for some of the concepts and innovations in the game play approach which emphasized subterfuge and diplomacy, and a good deal of criticism over execution—but apparently what was shown and discussed at the X-Summit had some observers excited. Not least? A trailer for the RPG was aired, which got Interactive Ontario to salivating.

In other news, Gerardis revealed that HBO initially wanted to secure various rights that Martin had already licensed to other companies, including gaming rights, but since then their approach has been partnerships, such as licensing HBO Game of Thrones resources to Cyanide for the RPG.  Their interest in gaming goes further than that, though. Gerardis had previously teased, via his Grok! Studios venture, that HBO was looking into social gaming, something that made us wonder if Bungie was involved (we later learned that Bungie invited George to visit them just as big fans of his work, and that at the time at least there were no plans for them to work on ASoIaF).

It seems HBO has indeed moved forward with social gaming plans, and Gerardis teased that there would be not just one game, but two (all good things come in twos, apparently!) social games backed by HBO. We’re guessing these will be much more expansive than the series of mini-games they released on Facebook, which is probably the platform for these two new games. What will the games be about? Well, when Grok! Studios teased it, Gerardis hinted that rather than being a Farmville-type game where you manage a farm… it’ll be one where you raze farms and villages. So, some sort of strategy game seems likely, for one of the two games.

According to reports, HBO will be announcing the two games “soon”, though we’re going to guess that that’s relative to the April premiere date of the second season. Until then, we’re going to get in touch with Cyanide and see if they have plans to release that Game of Thrones RPG trailer more widely.

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