I find this curious on a couple levels: Why wait until the week before launch to announce this? If you’re going to pay big Hollywood bucks to get A-list talent, wouldn’t it be something you’d trumpet for months/years before release? And if not, then why spend the money for A-list talent? Why not just get a good no-name voice actor?
Is there even any upside to paying for the big talent? I mean, aside from the relative assurance that you’ll get high-quality voice work, is having a named “star” even worth the money, or is it just an ego-stroke for the Producer?
Bell’s role in Assassin’s Creed has been public for a while. In fact, I believe she blathered some pretty significant spoilers earlier this year in an interview.
As for the larger question, sticking a celebrity’s name onto a game gives it mainstream cred. I suspect most publishers feel it’s money well spent, although I’m not sure how you can quantify that. Personally, I don’t think Halo 2 would have been nearly as good without David Cross.
Say, why couldn’t you guys get Ron Perlman for Painkiller, Gladguy? I think that’s one of the few games that he isn’t in!
Like Tom said, it’s been general (video game) knowledge that Kristen Bell was involved as a voice actor. And yeah, they weren’t (Ubi) happy about her revealing some key details although it seems like they kind of let some of that stuff go a bit early with the floating bits and zeros and ones encircling the characters. Personally I would have removed that stuff from demo code until the you absolutely had to show it as the “big twist” seems like it won’t be that big now.
David Cross was definitely a plus for Halo 2 and its a shame they didn’t get him for Halo 3, but I think the whole “tank beats…” section was pretty damn funny.
Hmmm… if it’s been public for a while, I’ve only been reading about it now. Maybe they tried to make a bigger splash, but it didn’t catch on as news before?
I can see the case for “mainstream cred” but for me, it’s the opposite. It reeks of either a) ego-stroke or b) desperation. I guess that’s just me. I totally agree that quality talent can make – or break – a game. GTA Vice City is a good example, I think, of A-list talent used well. Having all those stars wasn’t so much the selling feature, as was the fact that the voice work was really well done.
And, Tom, Perlman was too expensive. Cam Clarke not in enough games for you? :-P
Is she really an “A-list” talent, though? She’s primarily famous for being in a show that couldn’t sustain enough viewership to stay on the air. (No knock against her as an actress, though - I personally loved Veronica Mars. And, for that matter, the end credits to Pootie Tang.)
I’ve been aware of her since she let that big fat Kitty Kitty out of its burlap sack. I think they are trying to do the best with a (moderately) bad situation.
The last voice talent I name-checked was Lou Diamond Philips in XMen Legends, and I did that because he had such a small part I figured it had to be someone else…nope. One minute you are La Bomba the next you are the guy you sell your tech bits to.
This one press release can say nothing particularly revealing about the game, but still get sent around to so many websites and get so much attention that you have to qualify mentioning it with “I’m sure everybody’s already seen it.”
It’s “free” press a week before launch, the perfect time to remind everybody that it’s about to come out. Including people like me, who were vaguely aware that a game called “Assassin’s Creed” was coming out at some point and it was getting a lot of buzz, but had no idea what it was really about or if it was going to be out soon, or in 2010.
I get all that, Chuck, and I certainly side with your points 1) and 4).
And I get that she’s not A-list… but she sure is a recognizable name.
My question really is, I guess: is it worth it to spend the money on a name? Does having Kristen Bell in the game warrent the expense? Presumably, having her would cost substantially more than someone less famous? Does her being in the game generate enough of an increase in sales to make it worthwhile?
Or does Ubisoft have so much money that it doesn’t even matter?
Nobody will have the answer to that. It’s pretty much impossible to measure or even estimate the effect of Kristen on sales. All we know is that the marketing department of Ubisoft thinks it’s a worthwhile gamble.
I don’t know who she is, so I googled her and she is the Veronica Mars chick, apparently. Oh…she’s on Heroes too. So I am kinda familiar with her work. But other than being a legit actress, what’s the sell here? I guess I’m asking if video games get ‘real’ actors in order to sell more games or if it is for their talent. Do they pay significantly more for this? Is it worth it?
Kristen Bell seems like a good call. Decent actress, rabid albeit small cult following that probably intersects nicely with videogame purchasers, and probably a bargain at this stage in her career. Also, hot.
I’m curious about this, too. I recently played Halo 2 for the first time. I thought it was cool to hear David Cross in it, but maybe that’s just cause I was thinking of his Tobias character while I was playing. If I had never seen Arrested Development before, I don’t know that I would’ve have given it a second thought. Given that many games get sequels, maybe good vibes from playing a game with an actor you know and like helps with future sales in that franchise.
Also, maybe it’s just to get interest in the game so people would consider it. If someone mentioned that Stephen Colbert was going to be in a game I’d never heard of, I’d definitely check it out.
Personally I’d have removed that stuff from the code period and never re-added it, because it looks stupid and beating the player over the head with the “twist” constantly isn’t necessary, and what kind of cheap ass rinky dink holodecks do they have in the future where they can’t be more immersive?
All of the “omg this is a holodeck” effects like the targeting shader and the cut-scene wipe effect are horrendous (if they haven’t changed them since later demo showings).
Oh come on, they have been trying (rather lamely) to use the BIG SCI-FI TWIST THAT WE ALMOST BUT WON’T QUITE TELL YOU WHAT IT IS as a selling point for the game for like 1.5 years now… all the way back to Jade’s scripted comments at a public demo “Oh oops look we went back to this sci-fi-ish menu when we died, I can’t tell you what that’s about right now!”… read straight off cue cards. It was patently insulting.