Viacom Inc.'s new MTV Games unit is betting its chips on a strategic alliance with video game maker Myelin Media for the fall Texas hold 'em poker release "Stacked With Daniel Negreanu."
The arrangement will give MTV Games a cut of the title's sales revenue and control over the handling of licensed merchandise. The partners also will unveil TV programing on several networks tied to "Stacked" and the game's star, poker professional Negreanu, in the coming weeks.
The news comes just a week after MTV Networks unveiled the creation of MTV Games and an initial three-game deal with Midway Games, which is controlled by Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone. It also comes at a time when entertainment companies are looking for surging interest in poker to help them drive traffic to TV shows, video games and other product.
Myelin Media, owned by former corporate raider and Blockbuster Inc. dissident Carl Icahn, plans to release "Stacked" on Oct. 4 for Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC, with a PSP launch expected soon thereafter.
MTV and Myelin said they will promote the game via the on-air, online, mobile and other platforms, and MTV.com will serve as the official online site of "Stacked" with access to sanctioned online tournaments including special challenges with the pros, as well as game play stats and community features.
Negreanu said that he hopes the relationship with MTV will help "Stacked" take the "(poker) phenomenon to the masses."
While details of the programing tied to the partnership is expected to be finalized and announced in the coming weeks, sources said poker tournaments and Negreanu are expected to play key roles in it. While some content will be single events, like special appearances on regular shows, some sources suggested that MTV will use "Stacked" as its way to put its stamp on the poker market similar to the way it has used "Pimp My Ride" to target the car enthusiast market.
Other video game firms also are looking to capitalize on the popularity of poker. Activision Inc., for example, recently announced a strategic alliance with Harrah's Entertainment to develop games based on the World Series of Poker Tournament, which ESPN has aired in recent years. Source