The Hunger Games opened last Friday to sold-out theaters nationwide. Bringing in over $150 million in ticket sales, it claims the third-best opening weekend in terms of revenue in the history of blockbuster cinema.
Where there's a movie, there's a game tie-in. For The Hunger Games, audiences were promised two. One is iOS side-scroller The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire. The other is a Facebook social title called The Hunger Games Adventures, developed by Funtactix.
Back in early February, Funtactix studio head Sam Glassenberg touted browser-based gaming as the perfect solution for the long development cycles that could plague movie tie-ins, claiming that hitting "day and date on a quality [console] game is a near impossibility," but that successfully hitting the target of the film's release date — March 23 — with a high quality, engaging Facebook game was realistic. Talking with Gamasutra, he specified:
Fans can tell when something is not authentic and we're not interested in something that isn't true to the vision of the creators. The Hunger Games Adventures is not an afterthought to the world created in the books and visualized in the film, it is part of the same experience.
And yet "afterthought" seems to describe the game now better than ever, because the film's opening day has come and gone and The Hunger Games Adventures has yet to materialize, with no clear release date on the horizon.
The official website for the game says only, "coming soon," with no indication of when it was last updated, and asks visitors to enter their e-mail addresses for beta access. The Funtactix website doesn't mention The Hunger Games project at all. "Liking" the game's page on Facebook yields only the same prompt to enter an e-mail address that the website features.
The most recent Wall update on the Facebook page, from March 24, says, "Have you gotten your beta ticket for The Hunger Games Adventures? If you haven't signed up yet, click the THG Adventures Beta Sign Up tab on our page!" Opportunities to sign up for the Beta have been open since February 20.
Funtactix describes their mission as allowing "fans to enter the universe of their favorite film, and enable filmmakers to engage and grow an audience of fans like never before." The Hunger Games has been everywhere in the news for the past two weeks, with an enormous media and marketing campaign leading up to its release. But box-office receipts nearly always drop off after opening weekend, as does public interest from all but the most ardent fans. The game is losing its window of opportunity for reaching new fans.
What's more, sudden delays in development rarely speak well of a game, particularly when such a clearly beneficial deadline for launch exists. We've reached out to the developer for comment and will update the story when we hear back.
Update: In e-mail, a representative from Lionsgate explains, "We did launch the game on Friday day and date and ended up sending invite codes out to nearly our entire list for the beta – over 100,000 players. ... The reactions from fans and fan sites to the game has been tremendous. The public beta will start this Friday, as we've been planning all along with a number of fun promotions."