The game-of-the-movie for James Cameron's Avatar was one of the more unexpected announcements at this year's E3. The 2009 film was one of the highest grossing of all time, but the general public feeling about it now is to remember the spectacle of it, but not necessarily the details of the plot. The CGI was spectacular, seeing it in 3D was novel, and the main character’s name was… Jake, I think?
The upcoming game, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora sidesteps this issue entirely. In an interview with VentureBeat, Luigi Priore, vice president of Disney and Pixar Games, explains their approach.
"[T]here was a time 15 or 20 years ago where playing the movie was something. You bought the game and played the movie. Things like the classic Aladdin game on Sega Genesis. You played the film. That was popular at the time, but gamers expect more now. They want to interact with their favorite characters and worlds, but they want to play new stories and do new things with those characters and worlds."
Instead of re-treading forgotten ground, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is going to explore the "amazing science fiction world" the original Avatar built that Priore describes as "a great playground to play in." It's an admittedly odd approach to settings, in my opinion, as if they don't exist to be more than cool or pretty.
"The whole idea is to have it be part of the storyline of that giant franchise on Pandora, but it’s not a 'play the movie' game. It’s an all new open world, new characters," Priore continues. "That’s why it’s called Frontiers of Pandora. It takes place on another frontier, another area of the moon of Pandora."
There's some understandable skepticism from critics about the game's title—the original film's story centered around colonialism, so inviting players to explore a new "frontier" of Pandora is loaded language, to say the least. We'll have to wait and see what happens, however, as the canonical universe of Avatar is set to expand not only over this game, but three more films—the next of which, Avatar 2, is set to come out next year, along with Frontiers of Pandora.