Exclusive: Majesco to release Twister video game in Nov

NEW YORK Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:06pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The original interactive game, Hasbro's Twister, is going interactive.

The toymaker behind the game that has contorted partygoers into pretzels for the last 45 years with commands to put their left foot on blue and their right hand on yellow has partnered with Majesco Entertainment Co, the video game publisher known for its "Zumba Fitness" titles, on a digital version of Twister that will be out in November.

Shares of Majesco were up 7 percent at $2.46 on Monday afternoon on news of the partnership. Shares of the company, which has a market capitalization under $90 million, have more than doubled this year.

In licensing Twister from Hasbro Inc, the second-largest toymaker in the United States after Mattel Inc, Majesco is making a big bet it can breathe digital life into the ultimate real-world game.

Majesco Chief Executive Jesse Sutton told Reuters its goal with Twister is to prove to investors that the company is not a one-hit wonder and that it can achieve success outside "Zumba Fitness." That game has sold about 3 million copies worldwide and accounted for roughly 67 percent of Majesco's revenue for the six months ended April 30.

While Majesco is not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars with Twister, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter thinks the title could still be a meaningful driver of revenue for the tiny, New Jersey-based company.

"If they sell 1 million units, they make $40 million to $50 million of revenue and $10 million in profit," Pachter estimated. "It's a good name, it's a good brand, and I'm sure they will execute fine. I like that they are resourceful and coming up with these retro ideas."

In place of Twister's trademark mat and spinner will be the motion sensor of Microsoft's Kinect, which allows people to play games on its Xbox gaming console without controllers.

"This is using your full body as a game piece," said Majesco's chief marketing officer, Christina Glorioso.

The Twister video game, which will cost $49 and appear in stores on November 1, has 16 styles of play including the "party play" mode that was popular in the 1960s. Another mode of play allows participants to duck and dodge shapes that pop up onscreen. Up to eight people can play at once, with Twister's familiar color-coded instructions tying its participants up in digital knots.

"Investors right now just look at Zumba, but Twister is definitely one of the products we see as a major potential hit," Sutton said, adding that Majesco plans to market the game aggressively with live events and television commercials.

He also noted that the nostalgia around Twister will help it click with consumers. He declined to give details on the company's licensing agreement with Hasbro.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, editing by Peter Lauria, Andre Grenon and Matthew Lewis)