Massive’s David Polfeldt details how the studio and James Cameron have partnered.
Though Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft’s Avatar game is a ways off from being released, the Ubisoft studio has been working with James Cameron and the team behind the film franchise to create a version of Pandora players can explore and discover.
Speaking to IGN about the studio’s history and future plans, Massive Managing Director David Polfeldt explained the project allows Massive to fulfill a dream Cameron had for the Avatar films.
“What Cameron said is that everyone who walks out of Avatar the movie, and it’ll be this thing with the next [movie], has a dream that we can fulfill, and that is to go to Pandora and exist on Pandora, and live an alternative life on Pandora. That’s what you can do in the game,” Polfeldt said.
Because the Avatar game isn’t expected to release before 2020, Massive has plenty of time to bring Pandora to life. And in doing so, Massive is working hand-in-hand with Cameron’s production company Lightstorm Entertainment. This partnership, Polfeldt explained, is a much more creative and collaborative one than traditional licensed game deals, allowing Massive to create bring previously unseen aspects of Pandora to life while building on already established lore.
“For us, it’s an honor [to work with Lightstorm], but it’s also amazing to work with the best people in Hollywood and to create things that no one has seen, or build upon ideas that they’ve had but didn’t make it to the movies,” Polfeldt said. “This [partnership] is really creating things, new things together with the same team that are making the movies.”
Avatar is ultimately about world and discovery and nature.
Polfeldt still couldn’t comment on gameplay or story specifics, but he did explain players shouldn’t necessarily be expecting a version of The Division re-skinned with an alien planet. The Avatar game will be one much more about discovering its environment.
“It’s very very different from The Division. It’s built from the same engine, and we have access to any kind of feature or any kind of solution that exists in The Division,” Polfeldt said. “But it also needs to be a different game, because Avatar is ultimately about world and discovery and nature. It’s not a city. It’s a very, very different kind of scenario.”
That scenario also has philosophical differences driving the gameplay and world building.
“Philosophically it’s about something else. The Division is about the fragility of society, our society. Avatar is much more about balance and ecology. So it does need some very different themes that need to be translated into meaningful and fun gameplay,” Polfeldt said.
Avatar is much more about balance and ecology.
The project will represent a long-gestating relationship — Polfeldt described how he met Cameron and Avatar producer Jon Landau nearly four years before the actual partnership came to be. Cameron and Landau were impressed by the studio’s plans for The Division and Massive’s ability to craft a world with its Snowdrop engine, which included “toying around with ideas that were not part of The Division.” Once the game actually released, it cemented their belief in Massive.
“They were just waiting to see how The Division went, and then when The Division became this awesome success, it was kind of the final proof that they needed that ‘OK, this is the right studio for us. They’re capable of delivering on that level, and also maintaining it [as a] live [game],’ which is very important to Lightstorm,” Polfeldt explained.
So while Massive is approaching the Avatar game with a take distinct from The Division, Massive’s recent work and growth as a studio capable of continually supporting a live service game proved to be a key factor in the Avatar game becoming a reality.
Stay tuned to IGN for more on Massive Entertainment’s Avatar game, and for more from Polfeldt about The Division, Snowdrop, and more.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN who is totally down for a chance to live as a Na’vi on Pandora. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.