If you’re a mega-fan of The Hunger Games or Mission Impossible, there’s a fair chance you’re also a a fan of Funtactix, a New York-headquartered gaming company that builds social games based on some of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises. The company works directly with studios–and yes, Suzanne Collins–to develop graphics and gameplay techniques that allow it to stay as true to the films as possible.
Funtactix builds social games both within and without the Facebook environment, and according, to CEO Sam Glassenberg, it’s the only studio with a track record in the space.
“We’re resurrecting the movie-based games business on social,” Mr. Glassenberg told Betabeat by phone this morning. “It’s a new model for releasing games based on movies, where the game not only engages players and generates revenue as a consumer product, but because it’s free to play and because it’s accessible to half a billions social gamers, it also serves to promote the film.”
We’ve been known to groan at the term “social gaming,” but what differentiates Funtactix is its devout adherence to the quality of games. These aren’t your uninspired Farmville-esque graphics.
“When you’re working with a film director and you’re trying to convince them to take their film–a crown jewel–and bring it to this medium, you need to demonstrate that you’re going to be doing it in an authentic way,” Mr. Glassenberg said. “So we shoot for a visual quality that’s maybe a half a generation or a generation ahead of everything else out there.”
Funtactix does this by funneling much of its talent pool into building games that support customizable, motion-captured animated 3D characters. Since the majority of Funtactix’s clients are movie studios, harnessing the ability to construct characters like these is crucial to preserving the integrity of the film when translating it into a game.
“What drives [us] is our passion for creating an authentic experience for the fans,” Mr. Glassenberg offered. “We’re focused on realizing the fan fantasy for the fans of these franchises, so we use Facebook as a real storytelling medium, and that’s something that I don’t really think Facebook games have explored.”
Before Mr. Glassenberg’s joined Funtactix, he also worked for Lucas Arts on the team that was “one of the first to take assets form a movie and put them into what at the time was a console game,” he said. He also served as manager for Microsoft’s direct X graphics team, so it’s a safe bet to say he has a fair amount of experience in the gaming climate.
Funtactix has offices in Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, where the majority of its developers operate, but is headquartered in New York.
“One of the great things about the games industry is that it’s distributed,” said Mr. Glassenberg. “Unlike Hollywood, it’s not all in one city. So I’m very optimistic about the future of the New York games industry. I hope that our success can contribute to its expansion.”