Cameron's Avatar to Feature Playable Avatars

Director James Cameron (Xenogenesis, Piranha Part Two: The Spawning) is going back to his science fiction roots with a new film called Avatar, and with a title like that, it was only a matter of time before a video game tie-in was announced.

Publisher Ubisoft broke the ice today, stating that it has acquired the license to create a game around Cameron's upcoming film. The adaptation is planned for a simultaneous release with the movie in May 2009.

Avatar centers around the story of an ex-Marine whose mind inhabits an alien body. Caught in the middle of a civil war between man and alien, the marine must fight for his own survival, and that of the native people of an exotic planet. Renowned effects studio WETA Digital (Van Helsing, Maximum Surge Movie) is in place to bring Cameron's world to life for the big screen.

"For the movie Avatar we are creating a world rich in character, detail, conflict and cultural depth," Cameron said. "It has the raw material for a game that the more demanding gamers of today will want to get their hands on--one that is rich in visuals and ideas, and challenging in play.

"I told the Ubisoft team I wanted them to be free to do their very best work, and not think of this as a movie-based game. They responded with a fully realized presentation which captured the soul of the world and the characters, while promising to be a knockout game on its own terms. Their passion inspired my confidence that they are going to do something transcendental."

Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot has recently been aggressively pushing an agenda of creating quality movie-licensed titles. After handing development of Peter Jackson's King Kong tie-in to notable game developer Michael Ancel and his team--who received extensive input from both WETA and director Jackson during the course of development--the publisher saw critical praise and solid sales of the resultant game.

"We want to recreate the experience we've had with Kong," Guillemot said in 2005.