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Interview: Bruckheimer, MTV Add Execs Cohen And Veevaert To Game Concept Studio

Interview: Bruckheimer, MTV Add Execs Cohen And Veevaert To Game Concept Studio Exclusive

May 12, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

Storied film and television producer (Pirates Of The Caribbean, C.S.I.) Jerry Bruckheimer's new IP development studio makes its official entry into the industry, as it announces its executive leadership team.

As was previously rumored earlier this year, former Ubisoft senior vice president Jay Cohen will be president of production at the studio, which Bruckheimer first launched in partnership with MTV Games back in 2007.

Industry veteran Jim Veevaert, who most recently was Halo 3's executive producer and managed Microsoft's relationship with Bungie Studios, will be the Jerry Bruckheimer Games' president of development.

The incubation studio will work solely on original IP concepts, not tie-ins to past Bruckheimer projects, and concepts will be developed with cross-media extensions in mind.

"We're working with some very great people on the film side and on the TV side," Veevaert tells Gamasutra. "We have access to talent and types of collaboration we haven't had before in this industry."

"What's exciting... is perhaps what's happened in the past [with] games that aspire to become films, and films that aspire to become games, the experience of that game has just transferred over to the film, and vice versa," Cohen tells us. "We want to look at things holistically."

Beginning with concepts and having all of the media professionals who will be involved in its extensions in the same room will also eliminate many of the traditional hurdles in creating concepts with which users can engage across a number of platforms, Cohen says.

"To begin with, it is 100 percent our focus developing original IP, and then to developing the synergies with the film and television groups from the onset," he says. "We think this model is really unique, in that you're putting executives in charge of production... with the creative experience, the technical experience and the business aspects of production all together in the same room up front."

"We feel that that affords us the opportunity to look at things... with a lot of expertise in the room, and a lot of fluidity in the decision-making process as well," adds Cohen, "and that's the plan to really execute on effectively and efficiently. We can move quickly with the right experience at the decision process."

"We've been there; we've seen all of the places where one can get frustrated," he adds. "Things didn't go as would hope they could've gone, just because of the nature of the organizational structure. So when we looked at this, we said, 'wow, this is totally different' -- you're putting the right people and the right talent who can make a difference as you try to develop AAA blockbuster entertainment IP."

"It's enormously difficult, and complex and risky, but we believe in where we are today, and where the industry is going tomorrow."

Both execs believe strongly in the increasing relevance of video games to entertainment culture. "In the past, where we would think about, 'oh, what film would make sense as a game,' now we're starting to think about games as an equal medium... [to] films and television," says Veevaert.

"I think that's the real opportunity we have," adds Cohen. "With the vision Jerry had, he's had an enormous impact on film and television... and now he's thinking about how to have the same impact on games."

"Jim Veevaert and Jay Cohen are two of the most knowledgeable, brightest, and creative talents in this industry," Bruckheimer says in a statement alongside today's announcement. "Throughout their careers, Jim and Jay have both demonstrated their unstoppable desire to advance the medium, which is exactly what we do with feature films and television. We are going to create content that challenges the way things are done and the experiences gamers have today."

Bruckheimer first partnered with Don Simpson to produce films like Flashdance and Beverly Hills Cop, and since the creation of his own Jerry Bruckheimer Films, has produced movies including Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. His television work includes the C.S.I franchise, Without a Trace and Cold Case, among others. This venture represents his first work in the games business.

MTV Networks president Van Toffler also offers his endorsement of the new venture and its execs: "Following on the success of Harmonix and Rock Band, this powerhouse coupling of Bruckheimer and MTV Games is the next step in our evolution in the video game industry."

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