Quantic’s upcoming game could revolutionize how we produce games.
When Heavy Rain released in 2010, it reaffirmed Quantic Dream to a new audience. The idea of an “interactive film”, first accomplished by the studio back in 2005 with Fahrenheit, had been forgotten or ignored, as no publishers asserted it as feasible. Even as Heavy Rain had critical and economic success, lauded for its use of quick-time events and making €60 million profit (the latter according to David Cage), the idea never caught on. But in 2013, Quantic is back and in a big way with Beyond: Two Souls, featuring two preeminent Hollywood thespians, Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.
Starring as Jodie, Ellen Page makes her video game debut, while Dafoe was previously in the film tie-in to 2002′s Spider-Man and James Bond 007: Everything is Nothing. However Beyond is the first time (that I could find) where two notable film actors lead a video game cast when that game is unassociated with a movie. This marks a grand shift in two respects: that some Hollywood talent recognize video games as a way to get acting gigs; and that the ‘interactive film’ is growing into a respectable genre. Considering these, the question becomes could Beyond catapult other Hollywood talent to consider roles in games?
Anyone familiar with motion capture knows video game acting is tougher than film acting. Reciting lines is half the battle; actors also must simulate the physical actions of their characters. The latter is sometimes more apparent depending on the game, especially during combat-heavy scenes. Because games are restricted to the confines of the medium, the role will plausibly have more physicality to it than dialogue, meaning that may bar some high-profile talent from making waves in the game industry. Or should the idea take off, employ a new breed of stunt doubles.
And the pay, well, isn’t as great as making a blockbuster movie like Juno or Spider-Man. I couldn’t find any quotes or statistics as for how much Sony paid both Page and Dafoe, but for budgetary reasons, it’s hard to say Beyond has the selling power or gravitas if their salaries cost a fortune. Actors would have to work on the merit that this is aiding a blossoming art form. This won’t suit some Hollywood talent obviously. When you make a cool couple of million per year making films, in this case though, beggars can afford to be choosers.
What this does though long term, especially now Los Angeles has DICE and a growing studio list, is make video game voice acting more competitive. Established and aspiring actors will look to games as a way of getting their name out there. Names like Nolan North and Jennifer Hale take precedence because their body of work speaks for itself, and even in their own right they are gaming celebrities, but more diversified voice talent for studios to work with is never a terrible thing.
Unfortunately, games have a regrettable history of film tie-ins. Vice versa, too. If legendary acting talent expresses a liveliness for games, this, ironically, could make film studios more confident in gaming properties. The embattled stories of development hell plaguing game films strongly indicates that the interest exists, but not so much that Hollywood is set on abandoning superhero movies for the summer blockbuster run. Ubisoft, on the other hand, has taken the rights to Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia and decided to go on its own, in its division called Ubisoft Motion Pictures, that plans to produce a Far Cry picture above other series.
Hot off his role in Prometheus (which just had its sequel announced), Michael Fassbender is slated to play Desmond in a Creed movie set for 2015. For a long time, talks had been going on for a BioShock film before it got cancelled, and the Gears of War film project is in the midst of a script rewrite. Jake Gyllenhaal had ginormous success as the Prince of Persia, the highest grossing video game film. And many other franchises, too, have been speculated to be getting film iterations in the distant future.
Where Beyond sits in this mess of projects is unclear. However, if one thing is a certainty, based on the game’s success, Page and Dafoe just might have started a new generation of games featuring Hollywood talent. And David Cage’s often sensationalist quotes will be fully realized.
Am I pulling at strings here? Do you plan on playing Beyond: Two Souls?
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