The Licensing Expo 2013 in Vegas occurred directly after E3 2013 in Los Angeles. For attendees of both mega events, an adjustment in mindset was required.
E3 is manic with sensory overload over every square foot of the LA Convention Center. At Licensing Expo, there are installations and neon lights, but everyone is in business attire. No one is rushing to get in line. The staff at the Discovery Channel booth mocked a woman rushing around the first day at opening procuring bags (though it was unnecessarily catty) which were the predominant swag.
For most of the exhibitors, business appointments are required. Many of the meetings are of partner presentations and deal-making. Few are amenable to press-Disney Consumer Products’ PR team left after the 1st day.
Hasbro, Activision, and Coke were the larger companies willing to spend time providing media information on their licensing strategies. These companies focus on maintaining a high quality, and that extends to their license partners.
But what happens when the property itself gets cancelled?
Young Justice, the animated TV series on the Cartoon Network, used the same title as a comic book series that was long ago cancelled. Besides the presence of Robin and Arrowette (Artemis), few key elements carried over to the TV series from the comic book.
Facets of the comic book team, Teen Titans, were infused, and the TV show was a fan and critic favorite, winning an Emmy award. A tie-in comic book was brought to life, and it survived the entire revamping of the DC catalog (known as The New 52). But that tie-in iteration had its last issue in February 2013. That was also when the CN cancelled the TV show. However, Little Orbit, the videogame company, had been developing Young Justice: Legacy. It showed snippets on the floor at E3 2012 and went ahead with the development of the game. Originally slated to debut in February 2013, the game has been delayed to September.
Part of the delay was that between the 1st and 2nd season of the TV show, the creators jumped five years in time and changed the main characters. Some grew up such as Miss Martian and Superboy. Voice actors like Danica McKellar just used deeper, older voices. But Robin evolved into Nightwing. While true to the comic book, it presented a quandary for the video game since Robin was not a main presence on the show anymore.
In talking to those demo-ing the game at E3 2013, I was told that Little Orbit was never informed about the impending cancellation of the series.
While Endemol has had success with its licensed video games extending the life of a brand no longer supported by a TV show, their licensed products are high sellers. The main reason the Young Justice TV series was cancelled is because of low toy sales.
What carried much excitement in 2012 had little buzz in 2013. It had nothing to do with the quality of the game. How the game-released on 3DS, Windows, PS3, WiiU, and Xbox 360 but not Wii or PS Vita-will be marketed remains to be seen.
But it’s disheartening to see a project torpedoed because of extenuating circumstances rather than the quality of the game.