Filmmaker Peter Jackson to make Xbox games

Friday, September 29, 2006

Photograph taken of Peter Jackson in 2003.

New Zealand filmmaker, Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh announced at the X06 convention, Wednesday, that they are teaming up with Microsoft to create Xbox and Xbox 360 games with their new company, Wingnut Interactive.

Wingnut Interactive will initially create another video game based on sci-fi series Halo with help from Microsoft and Bungie Studios, but staffed locally in Wellington. His second project can be whatever he likes, while trying to bring new people into the world of gaming.

Peter Jackson spoke to New Zealand news broadcaster, 3 News and said: "I want to able to experiment with ways of telling stories that's not using the structure of a movie. It's immersive and interactive, but it goes beyond (today's) games. It's what we've been looking forward to for 10 years. I'm sure it will start small and if things go well it will expand to fit whatever this turns into."

Simon McCallum, computer scientist from the University of Otago, said: "For the new company to succeed it would probably need to employ a mix of industry veterans and about 20 or 30 top computer science graduates. However, at the moment New Zealand would struggle to fill any new jobs. In the past two years demand for computer science graduates had tripled while supply had halved."

The New Zealand Game Developers Association said around 140 people work in the development of video games in New Zealand. They say the industry is worth between NZ$8 million and $10 million each year. "There is a lot of potential to do something very very big and something very revolutionary. We'll just have to see what happens when the game comes out in a few years time, whether they deliver on that," said Mario Wynands, from the New Zealand Game Developers Association.

David Mclean, director of Australia and New Zealand Xbox, said: "The whole ten billion dollar video games business will be looking at New Zealand and what Peter Jackson produces. There is no release date yet, because Jackson will take as long as necessary to ensure the games meet his exacting standards."

Kerry Prendergast, mayor of Wellington said: "The venture's potential boost to Wellington's economy is enormous. Certainly the early advice I have is that it is worth millions of dollars and more jobs in our city."

Peter Jackson is the producer for the movie version of Halo which is to be shot next year, in Wellington. Jackson also worked with Ubisoft to produce the King Kong video game.

Jackson said: "Xbox has fundamentally changed how people think about games. My vision, together with Microsoft Game Studios, is to push the boundaries of game development and the future of interactive entertainment."

Microsoft also announced at X06 that it is releasing a HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360, which will come bundled with a free HD-DVD version of King Kong for a limited time only.