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Posted By Sim@CanDevs

Perhaps no video game better traced the evolving landscape of video game development in the late 1990s and onward than Tomb Raider, which grew from a 1996 third-person shooter designed for the Sega Saturn, PlayStation and PC, into a cultural phenomenon. Featuring female adventurer Laura Croft at its center, the original Tomb Raider was an immediate smash, credited with helping to sell over 100-million PlayStation consoles. In a fascinating way, the game quickly transcended the video game world, with Lara Croft gracing the covers of TIME and Newsweek in the years that followed.

Four more annual Tomb Raider games were released by Core Design following the success of the original, creating a buzz that eventually drew Hollywood’s attention. The result was a pair of Tomb Raider films, staring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, released in 2001 and 2003. Those movies, paired with comic books, novels, animated short series and much more helped transform Tomb Raider from a legend in the video gaming industry into a pop culture icon. The game was among the first to make this transformation on such a massive scale, and is still producing new editions.

The franchise set the bar for video game licensing, opening a number of new revenue streams for developers to convert upon a hit game. Some of the biggest streams include:

Movies/DVDs - Obviously, there is a lot of money to be made in Hollywood. The two Tomb Raider movies, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, made more than $430-million at the box office worldwide combined, all while helping the video game franchise boost its profile and likely sell countless more video game titles.

Merchandise - Another great way for companies to make money of their gaming franchises is through merchandising. By putting Lara Croft on t-shirts, hats, television ads for Visa and Lucozade drinks and much more, Eidos Interactive (now Square Enix Europe) was able to generate millions in extra revenue.

Licensing to casino software companies - One of the more unique revenue streams is licensing to casino software companies. A number of popular series - both movies and video games - have been transformed into casino software game. A license for Tomb Raider was specifically bought by Microgaming, one the biggest casino software companies creating a successful 5-reel video slot based upon the game.

Amusement parks - Tomb Raider also made a pretty penny by licensing its rights to six Paramount Parks, with three Tomb Raider-themed rides opening around the world. Later, the franchise supported the Tomb Raider: The Machine ride at Movieland Studios in Italy, and also boasted the indoor Tomb Raider: The Ride at Kings Island until 2008.

One of the more difficult questions to answer when it comes to Tomb Raider is whether the game grew to such iconic status because of the effectiveness of the licensing, or whether the game was simply so popular that a great pop culture presence was bound to follow. Certainly, a lot of the franchise’s popularity outside the gaming sphere came from good planning. Angelina Jolie was a rising star in 2001, and using her as the face to bring the franchise into Hollywood aided the process immensely.

That said, what really sold the Tomb Raider franchise was Lara Croft. A strong, sexy female lead, Croft was a new sort of hero for the traditionally male-dominated video game world. Her presence at the forefront of such a popular game is what drew mass attention - thus her placement on TIME and Newsweek covers. Her, and probably Tomb Raider’s placement as the first major PlayStation game, is what really drove the franchise into rarified air.

Posted By Sim@CanDevs

The Canadian Interactive Industry Profile 2012 (CIIP), which provides an in-depth look at the interactive digital media (IDM) industry in Canada, was released during Interactive Ontario’s X-Summit programming at nextMEDIA.

This report follows two previous editions of the Canadian Interactive Industry Profiles released in 2006 and 2008 but proposes a revised methodology that includes a more narrowed definition of the digital media industry to provide more of a focus on companies creating true “rich interactive experiences” (in terms of content creation) and those that supply services that directly enable other firms to create those experiences.

Covering all Canadian regions and comprising data collected from big, medium and small companies through a national survey, this report provides an extensive view of Canada`s IDM industry. In addition to the key economic indicators found in the first chapter, this study also includes a chapter on human resources, training and skill gaps that can currently be observed in the IDM sector. Finally, the report provides a future outlook for Canada’s IDM industry.

Interactive digital media companies in Canada appear to be poised for growth in the year or two following the report. Just over 80% of companies project at least 10% growth in revenue over the following 12-24 months and more than half (56%) project revenue growth of 25% or more over the same period. At the same time, there are a number of barriers that could hinder future growth. Core IDM companies in Canada indicated that a seeming lack of affordable capital is the most significant limiting factor for company growth in the industry, followed by the availability of management and sales expertise and the availability of skilled labour in general.

Key findings from the report: 

  • Canadian IDM companies employed 26,700 full-time equivalents (FTE)  
  • Almost 57% of revenues generated in 2011 were directly related to export sales.
  • Canada`s interactive digital media industry is concentrated in Ontario, British Columbia and Québec. 
  • From 2008 to 2011, the total revenues generated by the industry grew by a yearly average rate of 17%  
  • $3.8 billion in total gross annual revenue was generated by these companies, with$2.5 billion directly attributed to IDM production  
  • Games products produced the largest amount of revenue for core IDM companies in Canada (about 43% of total revenues for 2011)
  • Mobile devices were the most targeted platform, with 75% of companies creating core IDM products for mobile platforms

The CIIP was commissioned by the CIAIC and created by Nordicity, with funding from the Cultural Human Resources Council, Canada Media Fund (CMF), Canadian Heritage, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).

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