Your gaming is about to take a sour turn.
A new videogame based on the adventures of the Sour Patch Kids is poised to launch on the PC later this month and on the Xbox in March. Published by Capcom with creative by agency Mother New York, the game gets you to take on the role of a Sour Patch candy kid as he or she navigates the world around them, from the floors of a movie theater to concession stands.
The brand wanted to connect its core consumer base -- teens and young adults -- beyond sticky fingers and the confectionary aisle, according to Shobha Sairam, strategist at Mother. "Gaming is the right platform to connect with teens and young adults," says Sairam.
This isn't the first time an edible has tried to make its way onto a gaming platform. While Coca-Cola wins first movers prize with "PepsiCo Invaders" for the Atari in 1983, in 2009, Burger King and Crispin Porter + Bogusky debuted the King Games, a trio of adver-titles for the Xbox and Xbox 360 that the fast feeder sold for $3.99 each, with the purchase of a Value Meal.
Mother, however, maintains that World Gone Sour "stands on its own" when it comes to inspiration. The brief from the client was to make the Sour Patch kid into a pop culture icon, says Sairam.
The agency started with the idea that if a Sour Patch candy doesn't ever get consumed, it would go crazy and become "pure evil"--kind of like what happens when you feed a Mogwai after midnight. "It was a fun build from the original notion and allowed us to create a deeper story around the Sour Patch kids," says Allon Tatarka, creative at Mother.
To tease the game, the agency released a music track, "World Gone Sour," performed by hip- hop artist Method Man. The track will also appear in the game. Mother creatives agree that he was a bit of an "unexpected choice," but was picked because he had a lot of credibility. Method Man's own voice is very much present in the work. Creatives wrote a song for him, which he used as a guide, but was also able to run with on his own. "We wanted something that felt authentic to him and the kind of music he makes," says Jordan Chouteau, creative at Mother.
The game also features voice overs from Creed Bratton from The Office for quips and tidbits that will appear throughout gameplay.
For Mother, working on a video game versus a traditional film or commercial meant a lot of blind faith. "It's much harder to see it come together throughout the process," says David Hohusen, creative. A lot of programming happens before anything even starts to look like anything, he says. Mother also had to swap around some hats internally. The project took two years, from conception to delivery.
"We never staffed up internally but we did use creatives in a slightly non-traditional way," Tatarka says. For example, Hohusen led creative despite not being either a copywriter or art director -- simply an animator who loves video games. "Having him at the heart of the project helped us stay focused on breaking out of the 'Advergaming' mode."
Beefy Media, which specializes in video game production, took on direction and production duties, while Playbrains acted as developer. Mike Aaron, the producer on the project, said that since video games are a new realm for Mother, the agency tried to find people that understood that industry, making Beefy and Playbrains natural choices for production partners.
Beefy's president, Adam Boyes, also leveraged some past relationships while picking publisher. "We chose Capcom because they stand for high quality," says Boyes, who worked as direction of production at Capcom for three years until last year, according to his bio. Capcom has been leveraged for marketing and PR as well. "When it comes to making video games, there are so many moving parts, and it's difficult for someone new to the space to be able to envision what will be presented during the various stages of the project," said Boyes. One big production challenge was that even when a game is functionally complete, it looks incomplete on a screen. What Mother brought to the table, said Boyes, was a lesson to video game developers on how to bring a brand's identity to life within a video game.
The game is available on multiple platforms, on PC, Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation. "Each platform has its own inherent challenge," says Boyes. "But our development partners, [Playbrains] are really experienced."
Mother declined to comment on whether it will get any ownership of the intellectual property or share in the profits from the sale of the game.
The game is special because it makes no bones about morality or goodness, just plain (or flavored) fun. "Most games reward you for either being terrible…or being a hero," Hohusen says. "We reward the player for both."