It’s been some time since UK broadcaster BBC dipped its toes into the world of gaming, but reports suggest iPhone gamers could soon be treated to some of the corporation’s biggest assets, including sci-fi time lord Doctor Who.
Ironically enough, 2005 was both the year the BBC revived the world’s most successful science fiction series (according to the Guinness Book of Records) and pulled out of gaming. As a result, it’s taken five years for the company’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, to see the value in exporting the Doctor into the world of videogames.
The corporation is reportedly currently in the process of pitching the franchise, among others, to development studios for potential release on iPhone, Facebook, and consoles.
“We are open to conversations with anybody in games about all kinds of business models to see how we can extract more value,” Neil Ross Russell, MD of children’s and licensing, told UK trade magazine MCV.
Just what kind of gameplay is being considered is still up in the air, but Doctor Who executives have previously communicated the difficulty of translating a series that focuses on saving lives rather than taking them– the Doctor famously frowning upon any kind of violence or gunplay– into a videogame. However, some commentators have speculated that Revolution Software’s recent iPhone releases Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword could well serve as an example for the BBC to follow, since their point-and-click play style focuses on investigation rather than combat.
“Outside of Disney we have the most well-known line-up of children’s characters around the world,” Russell concluded. “What we’re trying to do is build the brands here-’“ this is not about opportunistic licensing. If we wanted to do that we would have done more with these key brands over the last few years.”
Doctor Who has begun to make a bit of a splash in the States lately, largely due to an appearance at last year’s Comic Con. Record-breaking Christmas special ratings for BBC America, plus news that spinoff Torchwood is apparently in line for an American remake courtesy of Fox, are both no doubt major factors in the corporation’s renewed desire to turn the Doctor into a gaming icon on both sides of the Atlantic.
As one sign of how seriously BBC Worldwide is taking the move, the corporation has hired former EA and Yahoo exec Robert Nashak as EVP of digital entertainment. Though no finalized plans for the likes of Doctor Who have yet been made public, if the series’ continued marketing blitz in the UK is anything to go by, expect this to be big.