Well, UTV Ignition appear to be putting some of their problems behind them: after cost cutting and reports of layoffs last year, it is gearing up for the launch of its first major console game: El Shaddai. The Japan launch is planned for April 28th 2011, and UTV says that it has locked minimum guarantees of $10 million for the game. El Shaddai will retail in Japan at around $81 per unit. UTV Ignition is publishing and distributing the games in four regions: Japan, North America, Europe (including UK), and Rest of the World. In Japan, it has concluded partnership deals with both Sony and Microsoft, and is targeting 500,000 units in Japan alone. The minimum guarantee of $10 million is over and above this amount, according to UTV.
The company says it is in active negotiation for merchandising, licensing, co-branding and co-marketing deals, wherein commercials could include Minimum Guarantees, Revenue Share, and Advertising & Marketing Support, and two deals have been closed Japanese firms: EDWIN, a Jeans company, Bandai Toys. It is also in talks for movie rights. UTV says it expects to close deals in USA and Europe soon.
El Shaddai is the first of UTV Ignition’s games to release, and the company expects UTV True Games to also release two games during the current quarter. Another UTV Ignition game – Reich – is expected to release this fiscal, though a recent press release suggests that the game is still in development. Last year, there were rumors that War Devil, Ignition’s much-delayed and very expensive project, had been shelved, though UTV denied this. There were reports of layoffs and that Ignition’s CEO Vijay Chadha had been missing: this was never confirmed, and UTV declined to comment on it to MediaNama, neither confirming nor denying his absence. Now it appears that UTV is consolidating operations for True Games and Ignition in the US. According to a press release, it has consolidated its West and East Coast operations to a central office in Austin, Texas, thus merging all of its publishing and development into one location in the US.
The gaming business, though similar in some ways to the movie business that UTV is familiar with, requires much more investment – in development, distribution and marketing. One rule, though, remains the same – the entire investment can come to naught if the game doesn’t do well.
Last year, UTV had also said that they intend to raise money for Ignition. What happened?