EXCLUSIVE: Syfy Growing Staff To Plug Into Games

With a TV movie done in partnership with video game company THQ set to debut next month, Syfy is bulking up its Ventures unit, which is working to get the company plugged into the gamer business.

"We're going to be very aggressive and make a pretty big splash in this space," said Alan Seiffert, senior VP of Syfy Ventures.

Seiffert has named Jeffrey Li to the new position of vice president. Li had been NBC Universal's expert on games, working on the corporate business development and strategy team.

"We're going to be looking pretty aggressively in the next couple of weeks for people from the actual gaming space, specifically social gaming, to really help Jeff build out this pretty big platform," Seiffert said.

Syfy Venture has been working with game developer Trion on creating content that would exist both as a massively multiplayer online game and a television property. In March it announced it is getting into the social gaming business and SyfyGames.com is being revamped to make it more attractive to gamers.

"For Syfy Ventures, it's been a great year. We're starting to see some traction," Seiffert said.

Next month, Syfy will air the original movie Red Faction: Origins, starring Brian J. Smith from Stargate Universe, Robert Patrick from Terminator 2 and Kate Vernon from Battlestar Galactica.

The film, a backdoor pilot, is based on THQ's Red Faction video game franchise. THQ will be releasing the fourth game in the franchise, Red Faction: Armageddon on May 31. The movie takes place in the time between Red Faction: Armageddon and its predecessor, Red Faction: Guerilla.

The two companies collaborated and coordinated. One character from the movie appears in the new game.

"The great thing about good partnerships like the one we have is we know what we do well and they do what they do well," Seiffert said. "If the game does well, that will weigh into whether we end up moving to a series. If our movie does really well, that will help their brand."

"We'll get increase mind share. The network's in 99 million homes and we feel that if we do the right things from a cross-promotion standpoint we're going to build a lot of awareness from people who may not know about the Red Faction franchise," said Lenny Brown,

director, creative & business development, THQ. Brown said Red Faction: Guerrilla underperformed, selling about 1 million games after the first two games in the series sold about 3.5 million apiece.

In addition to boosting THQ's franchise, a successful movie could mean more crossover between games and TV, Brown said.

"A lot of people are really curious to see how Syfy is going to treat a well-respected property," Seiffert said. "I think when they see [the movie], gamers and the game press and people who are hardcore in that space will be very pleased."

Seiffert says that he's often asked if some of the creatures featured in Syfy's Saturday movie series will be turned into video games, including the Mega Python, Sharktopus and Mansquito. "People tell me ‘if you did that game, I would buy it,'" he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.