December 18, 2008

Gold Medalists Phelps And White Working On Videogames

Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps and Shaun White are both set to be featured in their own videogames.

The swimmer and the snowboarder are parlaying their athletic prowess into sports games that feature their likeness and promote active lifestyles.

Ubisoft has completed "Shaun White Snowboarding," and Phelps has partnered with start-up game publisher 505 Games for a series of videogames for iPhone and consoles due to hit stores in the spring 2010.

Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold medalist, called it a tremendous opportunity to help continue his quest to raise the profile for the sport of swimming.

Tony Hawk's skateboarding franchise with Activision has generated over $1 billion since launching in 1999, and is currently the only game that carries the name of a single athlete.

White has spent the past two years working with Ubisoft's acclaimed Montreal development studio on his new snowboarding game.

"I was sitting in a board room with all of these programmers and game designers and I was trying to convey to them what it feels like to actually ride and what my goals were with the game," said White, who's an avid gamer.

Each of the new games features White's motion-captured moves and voice acting. However, the Wii game, "Shaun White Snowboarding Road Trip," takes it one step further with the advantage of Nintendo's Wii Fit balance board that allow players to steer the on-screen action with their body.

"Obviously, it's easier to replicate the sensation of boarding on the Wii because we have the balance board, but with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 there's a whole culture behind our sport and you can see that in the amount of clothes and boards and customization options in the game."

White is the driving force behind the development and marketing of the game but players will not be able to ride the slopes under his avatar. He wanted players to be able to express themselves as individuals in the game, including being able to download their own music for the soundtrack.

"Shaun White Snowboarding" sold 259,000 copies in the U.S. in November and generated $13.6 million for Ubisoft with 40 percent of those sales for the Wii console, according to John Taylor, videogame analyst, Arcadia Research.

White said he's already started working on the sequel due to the overall success of the first game.

"Now that I have the knowledge and I can speak to programmers better and I understand a lot more about what's possible and what's not possible, this will all help with the next game," said White.


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