Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Maintaining your DINU: Star Wars & Soul Calibur IV

In DINU on July 30, 2008 at 9:11 am

Science fiction / fantasy have given us some of our most enduring and powerful Deeply Immersive Narrative Universes (DINUs). Tolkein’s Middle Earth, Herbert’s Dune, Roddenberry’s Star Trek, and perhaps the biggest of all: Lucas’s Star Wars Universe. The places, characters and events of the Star Wars Universe are ingrained in pop culture. As a result, Lucas and his companies (and an entire cottage industry) have reaped the financial benefits.

Yoda prepares to get medieval on someone in Soul Calibur IV

Yoda prepares to get medieval on someone in Soul Calibur IV

I’m not a hardcore game guy like my friend Rich Gallagher over at Liquid Architecture, but I follow it enough that I was puzzled to see ads for Soul Calibur IV, a game franchise I wasn’t familiar with, that featured Darth Vader and Yoda.  Soul Calibur, which is a popular and critical favorite among the gaming world, is not part of the Star Wars (Gaming) Universe. So why would Lucas allow two of his most important properties to appear in an unaffiliated game? Soul Calibur is a Namco game, not Lucas Arts. I’m puzzled by this seemingly short-term decision.

But let’s be honest, at this point, a cameo by Darth Vader and Yoda in a non-Star Wars video game is not going to bring ruin to the Star Wars franchise any more than the 1978 Holiday Special did.

Vader's got your Force, he's got your Force right here!

Vader's got your Force, he's got your Force right here!


But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the brand you manage doesn’t have the equity of Star Wars. Creating and protecting your DINU is critical to developing a relationship with your consumers. They have to believe in the integrity of the DINU. That’s where the magic is. It’s tempting to create partnerships, cross-overs or other deals to expand your audience, but you have to respect your hardcore fans as well. If you’ve created a niche product with a DINU, eventually it will be very tempting to take it to Target or McDonalds or some other mass channel, but once you do that you risk passing the point of no return. Grant McCracken talks about this in Flock & Flow.

Yes, Bea Arthur was a special guest star.I guess I’m a bit of a purist on this one, I don’t see that Lucas’ short term gain is worth the loss of credibility with old time hard core Star Wars fans like me. Perhaps the kids who grew up on the Second Trilogy – the ones most likely to play Soul Calibur IV – don’t have a problem with this. But it’s not a risk I would want to take with my brand after I had spent so much time creating the best known Deeply Immersive Narrative Universe.

  1. Soul Calibur IV looks awesome and I love the new feature where you can beat the clothes off your opponent, lets me know how bad I’m beating them!  I also enjoy playing Yoda that little guy sure can fight. If you want to try both versions of the game on Xbox and PS3 or you just need one of the systems you have to checkout this sweet contest stacker 2 has got going on where you design your own 6 hour power t-shirt. The winner gets a year’s supply of 6 Hour Power, 10 t-shirts with your own design on it, an Xbox 360 or a PS3, and a copy of Rise of the Argonauts. For all the contest details checkout this link:
    I hope I didn’t overstep my bounds by posting on your blog, and if you have any questions or want more info feel free to shoot me an email. Let me know if you design a T-shirt I would love to see it!
    Feel it fast.
    Energy that lasts!
    Elle Davis
    Brand Ambassador

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