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Will Dune: Spice Wars Kickstart a Thriving Franchise for the Epic Science-Fiction Novel?

Although Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the best-selling science-fiction novels of all time, past attempts to turn it into a moneymaking machine have failed. Along with David Lynch’s 1984 silver screen adaptation, there have been video and board games, but Dune has never become a mainstream franchise in the same way other sci-fi epics like Star Wars have.

This could be set to change, as the modern online landscape is the perfect setting for Warner Bros. Pictures to capitalize on the success of Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 version. Dune: Spice Wars is set for release in 2022 and could be the first of many related games.

A Perfect Candidate for the Modern Franchise Model

Modern films take advantage of numerous other popular platforms to boost their reach, an approach that didn’t really exist when Lynch’s Dune dropped in the mid-1980s. Nowadays, the most successful films ensure that they have representation across all aspects of mainstream culture.

A prime example of this was Jurassic World in 2015, which went on to gross $1.6 billion worldwide. It achieved this thanks to spreading into mobile games and online slots, following in the footsteps of other franchises to do so such as Tomb Raider. The reel-spinning games are often based on films and TV shows to tap into the familiarity factor and instantly stand out to players.

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Dune would be ideal for this form of marketing model, as the scope of the epic sci-fi is incredible. Herbert envisioned a rich, detailed future in which there are various colonised planets and warring factions. This means that game developers could choose to focus on other aspects of the universe aside from the main storyline of the novels.

Dune: Spice Wars Could Be First of Many Games

The first game to follow up 2021’s Dune is Dune: Spice Wars from Shiro Games, which is due to be released in 2022. The Microsoft Windows exclusive is a real-time strategy game where players have to raise factions and battle for control of Arrakis. The title should appeal to the huge MMO audience out there, but it is just one way that the extensive story can be reproduced in video game format.

According to reports, Funcom entered a partnership with Legendary Entertainment to produce other titles related to the film series. Along with MMOs, a single-player option that follows the path of Paul Atreides could be a massive hit.

Past Related Games Came About at the Wrong Time

Developers have tried to expand the Dune franchise in the past, and the 1990s witnessed a few related games. There was Dune from Cryo Interactive and Dune II from Westwood Games, which were both released in 1992. The latter was a hit and has been hugely influential. There was even a collectible card game released in 1997.

These games dropped long after Lynch’s film, though, and failed to exploit the potential market from that. If they had come out now, after the release of Villeneuve’s Dune, they could have been much more successful. Indeed, a card game could easily piggyback on the success of offerings like Hearthstone and Gwent. Because the 1990s games managed to attract players despite the 1984 film flopping, it bodes well for new games for modern audiences.

Thanks to the popularity of the stunning adaptation of Dune in 2021, Dune: Spice Wars could be a major success. It would be fair to assume that this will lead to other titles in what could easily become a thriving franchise.