Merscom developing 'Shutter Island' game

July 21, 2009 

A Triangle company is adapting another silver-screen plot for the video game crowd.

Merscom, a Chapel Hill-based video game publisher, is developing a game centered on “Shutter Island,” an upcoming Paramount Pictures film directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring actor Leonardo DiCaprio, executives said Tuesday. The game is due out Oct. 2.

“Shutter Island,” is the story of two U.S. Marshals who are sent to an island off Massachusetts in 1954 to investigate the disappearance of a murderer from the island’s hospital for the criminally insane.

Players try to locate escaped patients through seven levels. Users download the game to personal computers. They get a trial period before deciding whether to buy it.

The so-called casual game segment has been Merscom's focus in recent years. The 16-year-old company has grown by partnering with media and entertainment companies that are trying to extend movies and television shows to gamers.

A year ago it released the popular "Righteous Kill" game in partnership with Starz Media, a distributor of the Robert De Niro film. And in May, Merscom said it was teaming up with Showtime to develop a game based on "The Tudors," the network's popular series based on Henry VIII. Merscom’s games usually cost less than $100,000 to produce, but generate sales worth three to 10 times the investment, said Lloyd Melnick, Merscom's chief customer officer.

The company has been able to keep costs down in part by letting its partners push the marketing of the games. "Shutter Island" exemplifies the strategy. Launching the game prior to the movie’s premiere will help the game benefit from the strong marketing for the film, while introducing gamers to the movie, Melnick said.

The company's digital division, which focuses on online sales, expects to bring in between $3 million and $5 million in revenue. Two years ago, the division pulled in less than $1 million, Melnick said.

Merscom has about 15 employees, up from 6 early last year. “When you look at this economy,” he said, “that's pretty interesting.”

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service