Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yikes! Artificial Life Creating Robbie Williams iPhone Game

Perhaps I was a little irrationally exuberant when I suggested that Artificial Life (ALIF) might be "the new hotness in mobile games" back in May. The company's latest announcement, that they are producing a Robbie Williams iPhone game as part of the promotional activity around the release of his forthcoming album "Reality Killed The Video Star", is feeling decidedly like the anti-hotness (and that ain't coolness) to me. Apparently Artificial Life is creating a 3D rally driving game (not sure I get the tie-in) that'll release in coordination with Williams' album in Q4.... probably a re-skin of one of its BMW games. Oh I just can't wait! This seems pretty lame on a bunch of levels. Robbie Williams, for one, is hardly the phenom he once was... so the creation of an iPhone game feels like a somewhat desperate attempt by some marketing genius to keep him relevant with "the kids." Also, in the biggest market for iPhone games (the US), Williams never was a phenom... and probably never will be. It's hard to imagine a scenario where this game will get a lot of downloads, even if it's free... so the biggest value for Williams will the publicity (to which I'm contributing, I guess... perhaps genius is at work here). For Artificial Life the value is a pure financial practicality. They did something similar with Tokio Hotel a while back, and the model must have penciled out for them. In this case I presume they're being paid by Williams' label or management to create this game... and I hope it's a lot, because (as I've mentioned recently) they desperately need some cash and because repairing the collateral damage to their reputation as a games publisher on the rise (assuming they had or want that) will be expensive. That said, maybe I just expected/hoped that Artificial Life aspired to be a top-tier, world class mobile games publisher and that was never their intent. Frankly, if they simply want to play in the mobile marketing gun-for-hire app creation space there's probably no harm done, and this may even enhance their profile as a company that can quickly give brands presence in the mobile space.

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