By Ingrid Lunden
Earlier this year, Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGF) took a step into mobile gaming with a €2 million investment in Flaregames. Today, it’s expanding its in-house online gaming business. The carrier, which owns mobile operator T-Mobile, has announced that a worldwide license to create a browser-based game based on the popular Asterix comic books, as part of a larger expansion of its gaming activities.
The deal will see Deutsche Telekom work with SEE Games (a division of the licensing house SEE Global Entertainment); Asterix book publisher Les Éditions Albert René; and the games developers Sproing, to create an Asterix game that will become the “flagship” brand for the carrier in its new push into browser-based games. That push will also involve “significant” (but unspecified) investments into gaming software development and marketing, Deutsche Telekom says.
The announcement was being made in advance of the Gamescom gaming show that will take place later this week.
Rather than trying to create a whole new brand for the gaming market as, say, Rovio did with Angry Birds, DT has gone for an established, popular character. There have been some 350 million Asterix comics sold, and the stories have been made into eight animated and three live-action movies.
But there is a challenge, here too, apart from the fact that this is a new business area for Deutsche Telecom: there are already a number of online Asterix games on the market — you can see some of them here on Asterix’s own website — and given the advances in games engineering there will be a tall order to top what’s already out there.
“We are working hard so that we will soon be able to offer devoted fans a unique experience and breathe new ‘interactive’ life into Astérix,” noted Marko Hein, VP of Games at Deutsche Telekom.
Deutsche Telekom, like other carriers that have moved into areas like TV services, are committed to creating more online content and monetizing it as a way of offsetting declines in more traditional lines of business like voice services. “This game is definitely the flagship of a range of products which will get Deutsche Telekom started in the growing area of game publishing,” Hein noted. It also joins up with the ongoing push away from console-based gaming content into play-anywhere online versions.
The Asterix game will also be available in a free-to-play version on the Deutsche Telekom games platform Gamesload, Deutsche Telekom notes.
The deal also underscores how smaller and regional games publishers are teaming up with bigger companies to improve distribution. Deutsche Telekom to date has 130 million mobile customers, 33 million fixed-network lines and over 17 million broadband lines.
“Working with Deutsche Telekom as the publisher of the browser game is particularly groundbreaking for us. Their coverage and marketing skills at a global level will guarantee that this new Astérix adventure will be a huge success for fans around the world,” noted Martin Biallas, CEO of SEE Games, in a statement. The Asterix games is also part of SEE’s effort to bring more “Hollywood” content into its portfolio, he added.