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Summer movie-based games just what the industry ordered


Game industry sales thrive on big-time franchises like “Madden” football and “Halo,” but every few years they get an extra boost when new sequels to movie franchises come out. And this year, the industry is getting four huge hits within a matter of weeks.

The game that’s likely to become the biggest of the four came out earlier this month on the same day “Spider-Man 3” arrived in theaters, May 4.

Activision released “Spider-Man 3” games on every major platform and the game could sell in excess of 6 million units by the spring of 2008, according to estimates from Wedbush Morgan video game analyst Michael Pachter. The new game allows players to choose between the regular Spider-Man or his black-suited alter ego as they swing through a new layout of skyscrapers and subterranean tunnels.

Players will get a very different setting for the game that could rival Spider-Man for top sales honors. “Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End” is due for release May 22 across all major consoles and hand-held platforms. The new game based on the third film in the series allows players to take on multiple roles as they help Jack Sparrow navigate a seascape filled with pirates and ghosts.

Disney and Pixar Animation are also teaming up with Heavy Iron Studios to produce a video game version of the new animated film “Ratatouille.” The game will be released June 26, just three days before the film arrives in theaters, and players get to take on the persona of the gourmet food-loving rat Remy as he navigates his way through a kitchen and dodges chefs and other obstacles.

Activision is also publishing a movie-based game that skews to a slightly younger audience. The company released games based on “Shrek the Third” on May 15 on all the major platforms and handheld consoles. And Gameloft has obtained the rights to produce mobile games based on the “Shrek the Third” movie. “The action-adventure game allows you to play as Shrek or the Dragon,” said Gonzague del Vallois, vp of publishing for Gameloft.

Another movie-based sequel that’s sure to generate millions of units in sales is Electronic Arts’ “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Based on the new Harry Potter film due for a July release, “Order of the Phoenix” will hit stores on June 29 on all three major consoles as well as the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable. Electronic Arts also has a game due out in July based on the new movie version of “The Simpsons.”

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