(Un)blocking the Transmedial Character: Digital Abstraction as Franchise Strategy in Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO Games
In late 2007, Warner Brothers Interactive spent a reported USD $200 million to acquire Traveller’s Tales, the small English game developer that had excelled where countless other, better-funded game studios (and their conglomerate owners and/or investors) had failed. 1 With the 2005 release of the ﬁ rst LEGO Star Wars video game, Traveller’s Tales had launched a series of games based on famous ﬁ lm franchises that were consistently critically praised and commercially proﬁ table, challenging the wider perception of movie-licensed games as cheap ancillary tie-ins at best, and unmitigated disasters at worst. This success continued under Time Warner’s new ownership, with Traveller’s Tales giving some of its conglomerate parent’s most notable intellectual properties-including the expansive universes of Batman , Harry Potter , and The Lord of the Rings —the same lauded LEGO treatment. 2 At the time of writing, Traveller’s Tales had created more than a dozen hit LEGO titles based on established ﬁ lm franchises, with a host of other movie-licensed titles in development.