DC announces DC2 digital initiatives, new ‘Arkham Origins’ title

When given a highlighted choice in Multiverse, a reader can take the story in a new direction

In an effort to expand upon their success with digital comics, DC Entertainment announced last night its two new reader-driven initiatives at the Time Warner Medialab located in New York City’s Columbus Circle.

The press event was hosted by DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and Co-Publisher Jim Lee, who announced DC2, which stands for “DC Dynamic Canvas,” and DC2 Multiverse. Described by Lee as the “next evolutionary step” of comics, the initiatives launching this fall are intended to add another layer of interactivity to digital comics by allowing the reader to sets the pace of how content unfolds in front of him or her. Specifically in the case of Multiverse, the reader will also be able to affect story outcomes based on in-story decisions they will make.

DC2 will first debut with “Batman ’66,” a new digital-first title based on the Adam West series. Based on the demo shown at the event, the platform plays with the notion of panels on a page by removing a left-to-right reading style and removing constraints on how action, or even word balloons, will appear on the page. Perhaps appropriate considering the retro feel of the 1960s series, panels seem to pop forward and spring to life on the screen as the reader advances.

Meanwhile, DC2 Multiverse will roll out with the previously-unannounced digital-first title “Batman: Arkham Origins” tied to the upcoming prequel video game from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “Origins,” developed specifically for Multiverse, includes sound effects and limited animation, and offers a reader key “choose your own adventure” choices throughout the story. For instance, one can opt to follow Catwoman on a mission instead of Batman, or direct where the Caped Crusader will go next in Gotham. In addition to retaining a readability factor, Lee teased that “good choices” within a Multiverse story might lead to digital prizes and “cool rewards”

“Gamers will feel most at home” within the Multiverse platform, said Lee, which made “Origins” the ideal launch property for it. Multiverse will also collect data from reader choices, said Lee, to create more interactivity not just between reader and title, but reader and publisher, allowing DC feedback on what to develop further in the future.

Nelson highlighted the company’s success with digital distribution since it first launched in 2010 as an inception to DC2. She called their digital-first and same-day-digital comics model a “rocket launcher” and cited that they’ve enjoyed a 125% sales growth in digital comics in 2012 versus the previous year, but not at the expense of print sales, which she said was also up double digits.

Because, as Nelson cited, 30% of their digital readers are new to comics, and the company is able to sell out print issues, it would seem that DC2 and DC2 Multiverse is largely about attracting newer, and maybe younger, readers.

Lee echoed this, calling the platforms a chance to “cast the widest net” possible to capture “casual fans who might think comics are too analog or might not know what a comic book reading experience is like.”

“At the end of the day, this is not about selling more digital comics to our existing core consumer base,” he said. “The big one here is in the casual fan market, from fans of our characters from movies, animation and games; there’s tens of millions of DC fans out there not actively reading comic books.”

While details about price-points and future titles are yet to emerge, Lee did confirm that the initiatives would be about creating new content to take advantage of the technology, and not for adapting their catalog. Moreover, the company will be partnering with developers for DC2 and DC2 Multiverse but also maintain an in-house production crew. Based on the logo on the presentation, comic app developer Madefire looks to be involved in some capacity.

Follow @MTVGeek on Twitter and be sure to “like” us on Facebook for the best geek news about comics, toys, gaming and more! And be sure to follow our horror and comics nerd @AaronSagers for more fun!