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The Rise of DVD Strategy Guides

Kevin Gifford

The Rise of DVD Strategy Guides 1UP talks to GameTime Entertainment, creators of a new line of DVDs that could make breezing through games even less time-consuming.

Remember back in the late '80s when every two-bit video studio in America was producing tapes showing you how to beat NES games? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, those days could be back very soon: earlier this week, GameTime Entertainment took the wraps off a new line of DVD-based strategy guides for PC and console games, beginning with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 for the Xbox.

The first GameTime DVD is available in stores today for $14.99. We hear Rainbow Six 3 is hard, by the way. The core GameTime's DVDs (they call 'em dvGs, short for "digital video guide") aren't entirely unlike the NES tip videos of 15 years past: they use a combination of video from the game and a voice-over narrative to explain each stage of a game to the viewer. The difference from those chintzy VHS videos is twofold. First off, these strategies are sanctioned – GameTime is working with Prima Games (one of the top print strategy-guide makers in America) on this project, and the players doing the playing are from professional gamers, so you can be reasonably sure they're not just making this stuff up. Secondly, dvGs consist of much more than plain old video and voiceover – DVD menus let you jump to whatever section you need help on, and plans are underway for features like game demos, multiplayer strategies, and developer interviews in future strategy discs.

The dvG library is the brainchild of Robert Yan, CEO of GameTime and self-professed gaming veteran. In this interview with 1UP, Yan explains how he came up with the idea (we can identify with his lack of time to play games) and how he sees the series expanding in the future.

1UP: How did the idea for a DVD strategy guide series come about? Robert Yan:Well, I've been an avid gamer for over 20 years, and playing video games is still one of my favorite leisure activities. However, as I have gotten older I realized that I had a lot less time to play games, and that games have gotten much more complex and sophisticated. These two realities have somewhat diminished the fun factor of gaming. I've used strategy guidebooks and downloaded content from the web to help me, but the process was time consuming. Sometimes, I would even have my friends read me the play-by-play. But, since I didn't want to lose all my friends, I figured there must be a better way. Hence, the idea of the dvG was born to give gamers a quick and easy way to play and beat today's hottest games.

1UP: Did you get any inspiration from the old tip videos that were popular back in the NES days? Robert: No, not really. The idea and concept came to me as I was playing the current generation of games.

1UP: How is each DVD structured? Robert: Each dvG is going to be tailored to the specific game, but minimally, every dvG will have the following basic functionalities: Mission Walkthroughs, Trailers, and Game Basics. The great thing about DVD technology is that you can tap into the value chain of the game by providing cool bonus materials like developer interviews, game demos, closed captioning, and keypad instructions.

1UP: Is the DVD content strictly video, or will there also be text files/map images for use on a PC? Robert: GameTime has developed a unique way of showing gamers how to best beat a game using both video and audio-narrative instructions. Maps and images may be important in certain genres of games such as RPGs, but with full-motion video it may not be necessary.

1UP: How many DVDs do you plan to release in the near future? Robert: In 2004 my goal is to produce about 15-20 dvGs, but the model is very scalable. Ultimately, I would like to produce a dvG for every video game in the near future. It sounds ambitious, but when you think about it, we can co-bundle a dvG with each video game since it fits right inside the box.

1UP: Are you worried about gamers not being able to play the game and view the strategy guide at the same time? Robert: No, because gamers embrace technology. I feel our target audience knows how to use various technology products at once. Remember, these are gamers. It they weren't comfortable with technology, they would not be playing video games. The easiest way for a gamer to use our product is to connect a DVD player, PS2 or Xbox to the same TV monitor they are using to play the game, and [use a switchbox to] switch between game play and strategy. If these gamers don't have another DVD player, they can simply watch the dvG before or after to learn the strategy. According to educational psychologist Dr. William Glasser, we retain 10% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, and 80% of what we see, hear and do at once. So seeing is believing, and it's much easier to learn when you are being shown what to do.

1UP: Do you see the market for GameTime DVDs growing in the future? Robert: Absolutely! I started the company early this year and we have already gotten tremendous acceptance by both the video game publishers and retailers. This is a great product for all types of gamers - novice, pro, female, and older players.

1UP: Do you think they could replace print-based guides, or are they more of an alternative? Robert: I don't think our dvGs will completely replace print-based guides. It's the same as reading your news on print or watching your news on TV. Both could exist in the marketplace, and it's just a different way of delivering content to gamers.

1UP: Since the DVDs will have things like trailers, game demos and developer interviews, have you thought about expanding into a monthly disc-based game magazine? Robert: Yes. The DVD format allows GameTime to tap into various media formats. We feel that there are many great ways to reach gamers using this new method, and will consider a number of unique ways to improve our product and provide more content for gamers.

The Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 dvG is available in stores right now for $14.99. More discs are set to be announced soon.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.





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