Gaming – Why Movie Tie-In Games Are Going to Suck Even More Than They Already Do

There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a movie tie-in game. Gets the kids into it, don’t you know, and they pay $60 for the privilege. Well, not usually, but these games really exist to cater to the dottering old grandmas and clueless parents. Little Johnny likes this movie, and this game console, which means he’ll be getting this crappy game for Christmas.

It’s a problem, especially in terms of marketing because a crappy game can genuinely dilute the brand. And, in fact, it’s going to get worse. Much worse.

Generally, the kind of movie that gets a game usually takes about two years to make. There’s a very distinct target date that the studios want this movie out on, which is why release dates for sequels are announced before scripts are written. So basically, once they know the movie’s a go, they start working on the game.

This was fine in the NES era, because, really, there was a limit to the technical complexity of the enterprise. The problems were more a lack of interest in making a good game combined with not much time to code it.

This isn’t to say there haven’t been good, even classic, games based off of movies: they’ve just tended to either have nothing to do with the movie or not actually released day-and-date. “Goldeneye” didn’t hit stores the same day the movie hit theaters, for example. And I have a soft spot in my heart for “The Lawnmower Man” for the SNES, a great game with a wide variety of gameplay that remains sadly largely unremembered.

But now, things have gotten substantially worse, solely due to technical complexity. Now you’ve got to do a lot more than code some sprites and a hitbox. You’ve got to create an entire world out of a stack of production art and get it out day-and-date. Have fun in QA!

And it’s just going to get worse as gamers get more demanding and consoles improve. Now it’s not just creating a world. Now it’s creating a finely detailed world. Then it’ll be creating a finely detailed world with multiple gameplay types. And so on.

I bring this up because, like it or not, movie-based games are most people’s first, and probably only, experience with modern console gaming. People go for the properties they’re familiar with. That’s why we’ve got licensed games in the first place.

What does it say for gaming that their first experience with a beloved character is a miserable pit of suck?


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