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Would you buy a videogame just because a big-name director worked on it?

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Zacksnyder_l_2We now know at least a few of the projects that Zack Snyder (pictured)will tackle once he’s completed work on a modest little film called Watchmen:  According to a story in Variety, the director has signed a deal to develop three videogames for Electronic Arts (with an eye on turning some of those titles into film projects). Steven Spielberg, of course, also has a three-game deal with EA: His first effort — Boom Blox, for the Wii — was released last spring to generally favorable reviews. The ever-growing list of Hollywood vets who have worked on videogames now includes: John Woo (Stranglehold), Peter Jackson (a long-in-development title based on the Halo universe), and James Cameron (the game version of his upcoming Avatar).  Big-name directors really don’t get much bigger-name than this — and it certainly says something about the strength of the game industry that it can attract talents of such talent and stature.

But just how much can someone like a Snyder or a Cameron bring to the game-playing experience? There were parts of Stranglehold that were like scenes right out of Hardboiled — but, really, couldn’t the same be said of many recent action-shooters whose developers were undoubtedly influenced by Woo’s masterful bullet ballet? And it’s apparent that their names alone can move product: Boom Blox carried Spielberg’s name on the box cover, but the game enjoyed only modest sales. (That said, there are many reasons to explain why Blox wasn’t a huge hit — the real test will come in his next effort.) Already, a good number of new games refelect a more “cinematic” look and feel: heads-up displays, for example, will be missing from some A-list holiday titles. It will be interesting to see if these gentlemen can bring something to new to gaming (whose business model and structure, in turn, is becoming more Hollywood). What kind of changes do you think we can expect from these guys? Would you buy a game on the basis of their names alone? And which of these will ultimately have the most success in this industry?

Originally posted September 30 2008 — 7:15 PM EDT

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