Time Warner Inc.'s World Championship Wrestling division
teamed up with gaming company Electronic Arts in a deal that WCW expects will attract
video-game fans to its final pay-per-view event of the year.
EA signed a five-year licensing deal with WCW earlier this
year, giving the company rights to brand the wrestling video game it released in September
"WCW Mayhem." WCW also agreed to name EA the title sponsor for one PPV event per
year, and the Nov. 21 WCW Mayhem PPV event is named after the company's video game.
"I think this pay-per-view will be our best
pay-per-view for the year," WCW director of licensing Casey Collins said. "The
Mayhem brand, because of the game release, is building up. The true gamers are going to be
intrigued by the pay-per-view event. I think we will get some extra buys because of
The WCW Mayhem video game is based on WCW characters such
as Goldberg and Hulk Hogan.
Hoping to attract PPV customers who own the video game to
the event, the companies plan to release a game code on EA's product Web site (www.wcwmayhem.com)
and WCW's web site (www.wcw.com). The code, which will be released one week prior
to the PPV telecast, will allow gamers to play matches based on the card scheduled for the
"We look toward the WCW for setting up the
pay-per-view card. Once they've done that, we can take the characters that are set up in
the card, and the programmers come up with a code that will release the characters. You
can play the card before it happens," said Dean Elissat, EA's product manager for the
EA also released a gaming code for WCW's Halloween Havoc
PPV event last month, which allowed game owners to play the PPV card in advance of the
Elissat and Collins both said the timing of the September
retail launch of the WCW Mayhem game and the November PPV event was coincidental.
"Without question, the timing is impeccable," Elissat added.
The EA game -- available for Nintendo of America Inc.'s
"Nintendo 64" and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s "PlayStation"
game platforms -- allows gamers to have the wrestling characters fight each other outside
of the ring, like real-life wrestlers do.
Elissat said WCW would try to make the venue for the event
appear similar to the venue that the WCW Mayhem game is based on. "If we had our
wish, that would be exactly what we would love to see," he added.
EA has spent $2 million marketing the WCW Mayhem game,
Elissat said. The company's licensing deal with WCW required that it spend 30 percent of
its marketing budget on WCW advertising, he added.
To promote the event, WCW said it will offer free dog tags
similar to those worn by Goldberg to subscribers who submit their cable or satellite bills
as proof that they purchased the event.
EA is also one of the sponsors for WCW's final Monday
Night Nitro broadcast of the year on Turner Network Television, entitled "New
Year's Evil." The company will release the gaming code unlocking that card one week
before the Dec. 27 telecast.
WCW would consider striking similar deals with other
companies such as Sony's 989 Studios, a current WCW sponsor, Collins said.
WCW also plans to offer an Internet broadcast of the audio
from the Mayhem PPV event on its Web site, designed to reach fans without PPV
access or viewers who prefer to listen to the two announcers assigned to call the Internet
broadcast only, Collins said.
"We want to make sure our hard-core fans have an idea
what's going on," he added.