Ford’s Mark Bentley Talks Licensing; Explains How Cars Get Into Games
by Louis Bedigian“We're involved with all the major titles: Test Drive Unlimited, Need For Speed, Forza, Project Gotham, Gran Turismo.”
In between laps in Test Drive Unlimited and laps in the real Shelby Cobra concept at Ford’s Dearborn Development Center, Mark Bentley (Licensing Manager, Ford Motor Company) took a few moments to tell us about Ford’s involvement with games.
"I license Ford vehicles into toys, video games and collectibles,” he said. “One of the better parts of my jobs is working on video games. We’re involved with all the major titles: Test Drive Unlimited, Need for Speed, Forza, Project Gotham, Gran Turismo (last year). We’re really excited about our relationship with Atari, and we think the game is really revolutionary. It combines lifestyle and racing into one cool package. It’s going to bring a whole set of new customers into the racing genre.”
To make certain that the cars look as good as their real-life counterparts, Mark says that they review early game footage and screenshots. “We review all specs, screenshots – front, rear, side. All around, and interior. We’re always looking to make sure the game portrays our cars as accurately as possible. But if we do our job up front, that shouldn’t be an issue. ‘Cause we provide them with all the data they need. CAD data, drawings, photographs – anything they need to make it as realistic as possible. That either eliminates or highly reduces the incidence of error in terms of the way our cars are portrayed on-screen.“And we know that there are different levels of games in terms of the way the cars are finished off. If it’s a budget title, you’re probably not going to get that level of definition that you would in an A-title. Like an Atari game or an EA game.”
How does Ford decide which games to be a part of? Do you go to the game companies, or do they go to you? When does the relationship begin?
Mark Bentley: Generally speaking, the game companies come to us. We have a very specific set of guidelines we follow for participation in games. If the game title meets those guidelines, then we work out a contract, we just have to negotiate the details of that contract, and then go forward and supply them with whatever they need to incorporate the cars into the game.I’ll give you an example: we supply CAD data, we supply photos, we supply technical information. We will support them for recording the sound notes of the exhaust, of engines revving, of acceleration and deceleration. Depending on how technical the game is and how much realism they want to bring into the game, we actually partner with them from the beginning of the relationship and all the way through to launch. In cases where we really feel special about a game, like Atari’s game [Test Drive Unlimited], we go forward and help to promote them.
What are some of the guidelines that you require a publisher/developer to follow?
MB: We can’t have explosions. Rollovers – we generally don’t like to see rollovers. We know it does happen, but [we want it to be] minimal, if at all. No gratuitous sex, violence, obscene language. Pedestrians cannot be hit by a car. We’re always very safety-conscious. We will allow pedestrians on the course provided that they are not able to be hit. Provided that they vanish out of the way, what have you. Our cars can’t be put in any bad light, you know, where they’re out to do bad things to people.
How do you feel about body damage? It seems like car companies don’t want their cars to be scratched in a game. I understand that, but at the same time, based on the crash tests you show on TV, have you ever considered including an element like that in the game?
MB: Yes. We are probably more liberal than people think on damage now. In Test Drive Unlimited the cars receive very little damage. But you’ll find it in other games. For example, Need for Speed Carbon – you’ll see a lot more damage. The only thing we will not allow is for the passenger cabin to be compromised where someone could be physically injured. Now, they could be theoretically injured in a crash where the front end is bunched up and the passenger cabin is still intact. But the goal at all times it to promote safety, and making sure that Ford vehicles don’t get portrayed in an unsafe way. But we are not against damage-modelling in games. We do realism in a game, and we think that makes the game more real.
Speaking of EA, in the Madden series they have Ford Field – I would assume you’re somewhat involved with that…?
MB: No, we have not advergamed [advertised in games]. Right now Ford isn’t really active in the advergaming business. Not to say that we wouldn’t be, but we’re still more traditional in our print and online medias. We are looking at video games as a way to connect with younger customers. Our cars are the stars, as we say, in our games. But if it makes sense to have the Ford oval on a sign somewhere, on a track…but the financial equation has to make sense.
Are there any other titles that Ford is getting their cars into?
MB: We have our own series, a title that started out as Ford Racing. We had Ford Racing 2 and Ford Racing 3, and now we’re introducing Ford Bold Moves Street Racing, which is a title being released by Eidos on September 19th. That’s a partnership that we’ve had with Empire Interactive out of the UK, who has developed the series for us over the last five years.
What cars are going to be in Need For Speed Carbon?
MB: I don’t have the list in front of me, but you’ll see the new Shelby GT500, the Ford GT, the Mustang GT, and I believe a vintage Mustang.
And you’ll be able to tweak these cars to your liking?
MB: Yes. Need For Speed is about customization. It’s about street tuning, and a lot of kits and all that.
You said you’re involved with getting Ford cars into toys, games and collectibles. Are you also involved with getting Ford cars into movies?
MB: No, we have a whole brand entertainment office that does all that. They worked with Mission: Impossible 3, the movie Cars, and other types of movies too, if there’s any need for our products. A lot of times the movie companies are looking for an automotive partner for various scenes. You know, they’ll wreck cars – James Bond, Aston Martin. We are a long-running partner with Sony Pictures for James Bond. We partnered with them for the upcoming Casino Royale. Aston Martin, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, will have a presence in that movie.
Thank you for your time.
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Ford talks about Licensing :: Good readI'm a bit mental.
very good reading , thank you diablo
about they being against severe car damage/ rollovers etc... i know no one wants bad publicity, but from what i read they are not woried at all with safety, if w/e its done does not involve their brand."Our cars can’t be put in any bad light, you know, where they’re out to do bad things to people."But the goal at all times it to promote safety, and making sure that Ford vehicles don’t get portrayed in an unsafe way
they could care about safety in general, seeing that the number of severe acidents (and deaths) involving cars (and not only Fords) is getting even bigger (im not saying that games make ppl drive ina reckless way, just saying that they could have the same position about all driving in game). that would even make them look like a corporation that cares about the others and dont act in a selfish way of only protecting their brand, instead of showing greater care with their customers
one last touch
We do realism in a game, and we think that makes the game more real.
Last edited by Forza; 20/04/07 at 14:16 PM.
Nice, was a good read, thanks.-----[imglink]http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r289/pherelas/SigCustom.jpg[/imglink]. . . . . . Why is it always a wrong number, what if there in the wrong house? . . . . . . .
that explains why i cant roll down a mountain in a Ford Mustang, but it doesnt explain the Rturbo||||||||||||||||||Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
A bunch of mix feelings really. But what hits me in the face is how they think someone will by a car by what is does in the game?! Thats just crazy.....I Still Dawdle Round These Ends...
Thanks for putting this up Diablo, really good read too