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Is ‘Wizard of Oz’ the next big social gaming phenomenon?

Pay no attention to the pixels behind the curtain.

Despite the movie being more than seventy years old, The Wizard of Oz is about to become the latest motion picture to be turned into a social media video game. Warner Bros. has licensed the rights to the 1939 movie classic starring Judy Garland to an independent game studio in an attempt to create the next social gaming phenomenon. The result is something that’s taken two years, and almost $8,000,000, to develop.

The game is the creation of Chicago-based Spooky Cool Labs, which has created what it’s describing as “the first branded online, interactive, multi-platform social game designed specifically for Facebook.” Mixing clips from the original movie with highly-rendered 3D graphics (No glasses required, according to Spooky Cool Labs), the game aims to be the first in a new line of interactive experiences taking advantage of familiar movie brands for a potentially older demographic than tends to play social media games. Spooky Cool Labs CEO Joe Kaminkow told the Hollywood Reporter that ““I don’t think there’s ever been a high end product developed off of a big brand like this, ever, in this space. There have been things like a Game of Thrones and others, but something so nostalgic based, will have great appeal to our demographic which is decidedly females 35 plus, up to 55 years of age.”

Kaminkow is excited about the potential of using Wizard of Oz to expand the audience and scope of online social gaming. “We saw this amazing thing occurring on Facebook,” he explained. “As game designers we have never had an opportunity to make a game that would be enjoyed by millions of people, maybe hundreds of millions of people, simultaneously and in an interactive way with your friends. We looked at that space and said, ‘Oh my gosh, everything we’ve ever done in our entire career has led us to this moment.’” Not that the release of the game – currently in beta – will mean the end; according to Kaminkow, “the day we launch the game is not the day we end development; it’s the day we ramp up development because we know the consumer is going to be insatiable wanting more and more experiences in the game.”

Of course, to get to that point, players will have to sit through a 45 minute tutorial from Glenda the good witch on the rules and objectives of the game (The short version: The player has to negotiate the world of the movie and, like Dorothy, find the city of Oz in order to return to Kansas) before they’re unleashed on their own adventures full of wonderful things they do. Kaminkow is ready for the game to be a big hit – in beta testing, players have stayed in the game for up to eleven hours at a time, suggesting that it’s very addictive – and, when it hits, he says that Spooky Cool Labs is ready for the next big thing: “We have a whole slate of products coming,” he says, “but Wizard is really our tent pole.”

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