Back in the early 1990s, Dave Long always thought there was a connection between Hollywood and games - and not just with the classic Hollywood Squares game show.
I hadn't really seen it done before, Long said . So my wife and I would have a Halloween party every year and I came up with the idea one year of showing snippets of horror-themed movies, and people would shout out the answers.
That proved to be the beginnings of Scene-It?, a popular DVD-based movie trivia game that launched in 2002. It made millions of dollarsfor movie studios - and a lot of money for Long after he sold the game and the company he co-founded, Screenlife, to Paramount in 2008.
Long used the proceeds a year laterto co-found his current company, Exponential Entertainment, housed in offices in Seattle's Pioneer Square. The goal is to keep exploring that movie/gaming connection.
We just saw a larger opportunity in utilizing new technologies, particularly mobile and the online game space, he said.
The latest results include MoviePong, Exponential's recently-released first mobile app (available on iOS, Android, Facebook and Amazon), and Hollywood Player, a forthcoming online game - the company's biggest one yet. Both games take advantage of consumers' love of movie trivia,knowledge of actors/actresses, their favorite lines of dialogue from best-loved films, and the chance to compete against others viathe web and social networks.
Our media partners (major Hollywood studios) have spent millions of dollars using the best actors and best directors to create this fantastic content that is essentially a two-hour experience, Long said. We have the ability to take those best elements from the films, the sweet spots, and turn that into media snacking for the consumer, so they can experience those best elements in new ways with these quick engagements in a gaming format.
With Movie Pong, users have to beat the clock to answer movie trivia questions. They can also compete with friends who also have the app. When it comes to Hollywood Player, users create a fantasy movie world by playing mini-games.
Some of Hollywood Player's games have been used by Exponential to help promote individual releases over the past few years.
Then we distribute those games out across IMDB, ABC Family, MSN Games, so we can get the movie studios some great promotion, so that's one source of revenue, Long said. And on the other side, we sell digital goods within the games.
That promotion is also a two-way street, since the studios' audiences can be exposed to the full range of Exponential Entertainment's offerings. Meanwhile, virtual coins won in the game can be redeemed for real-life rewards such as movie tickets, merchandise and other loot.
In a way, Exponential Entertainment turns movie trailers - something other websites force users to sit through before they can play - into game checkpoints.
The user has the choice of whether to engage with it or not, so in the instance of movies, they can go to the drive-in theater within our world and see the movie trailers, and get rewarded for actually watching them, said Long.
Long said his company is ready for a blockbuster 2014.
We've done deals with the movie studios already, we've proven out the business model and now we're just looking to hit the accelerator, he said.
The company is in the middle of seeking B series venture capital funding worth $2 million, which it may use to pursue other games tied to TV shows, music videos and sports. Long is also intrigued by the smart TV concept and believes that could take media-centric gaming to new heights.
It's all sparked by the relationships people have with their favorite media, he said.
You feel connected, and that's how you relate as a person to certain types of media and film, and we can tap into those emotional attachments people have by serving it up to them in this media snacking format in various ways, said Long.