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Why a video game studio is banking on a TikTok star to launch a franchise

The timeline for a successful video game franchise usually looks like this: the game comes out and quickly becomes popular among players. Avid fans are starting to create content inspired by the game and their favorite characters, helping to bring that IP into pop culture. There may be a movie or TV adaptation. And as more people are introduced to the world of the game, more fans are created, leading to more demand for derivative content. Et cetera, et cetera.

But the leaders of Liithos, a multimedia gaming studio headed by former PlayStation executives, are about to do things a little differently with their first studio IP, Ashfall, set in a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest ravaged by climate change, civil strife and mutations caused by a dark energy. The series follows Ash Naranjo, a character who was born without arms and receives cyborg-like implants to help him save his family and homeland.

Instead of waiting for the Ashfall comic book series or video games released first, the studio hopes to generate interest and build an early fan base by leveraging the talents of Michael Le, a TikTok star known as @justmaiko who has more than 52 million followers.

Starting January 29, Le will star in a five-episode series — released every Sunday on his TikTok account — in which the creator Ashfall universe cosplay as the main character for a story arc where Le saves his younger brother Jonathan. The series also features Slider Jesus, another digital creator known for his elaborate zombie and monster costumes, as the main villain.

“People usually make videos based on things that [the audience] already know or like. For me, I like making animated videos, so I do things with it Naruto characters or things that people already understand,” Le said The Hollywood Reporter. “This is kind of using the same concept but creating our own IP, and I think that’s something no one has ever really done, especially for a game company at this scale. It’s really cool to just be a part of Something like this.

Michael Le in costume films the TikTok series inspired by ‘Ashfall’

Michael Mumbaier

Le filmed the TikTok series at Willow Studios in downtown LA and enlisted his VFX team to provide continuity with his other effects-heavy videos. Following the premiere of each episode, Liithos will also release a set of five NFTs inspired by each of the episodes and in the style of a comic book cover from Marvel and DC artists such as Coran Stone (Batman: The Dark Knight returns, part 1), Fico Ossio (No one left to fight, Spider-Man), John Cassaday (Planetary, Amazing X-Men), David Wilkins (Masters of the Universe: Revelation #3, Star Wars – Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison), Karl Kerschl (Adventures of Superman, Majestic) and Tom Raney (Destruction: Conquest, Ultimate X-Men).

The digital collectibles will be available for free on CoinZoom for one week after the release of each episode, subject to processing fees, and the collectibles will provide holders with an early preview of the Ashfall comic series, due out in March and created by Days passed writer and Liithos vp John Garvin. Viewers who collect all five will also gain access to a sixth digital collectible.

Michael Mumbauer, the CEO and founder of Liithos who co-developed The last of us and Not charted as a studio manager at PlayStation, said he has the Ashfall rollout as a “fascinating experiment” given the seemingly inverted timeline and the challenges of introducing a new world in a short format for TikTok. While the video game is still “several years” away from an official release, Mumbauer said he hopes the TikTok series will offer something unusual to captivate fans and reward them for coming to the game. Ashfall universe early.

“I don’t think there is a more charismatic person on TikTok than Michael, to be honest. And not just because of his ability to dance and tell stories, but honestly it’s just incredible to see his natural acting ability,” Mumbauer said.. “The new Hollywood is TikTok, and Michael is on that wave.”

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