EA just openly stated that making movie tie-in games is bad business. They list a few reasons:
1. The IP owners take too big a cut from the profits.
2. That leads to a smaller budget = worse game.
3. Timelines are also usually too tight = bad game.
= No sales. No point in making movie-based games.
To me it just seems weird that they are giving up instead of taking a step back and re-inventing the whole model. After all no one can deny that movies loved by millions do make a great base for a game.
I think it’s just how you approach the whole thing.
The classic model (that fails according to EA) is to take a movie and try to repeat the storyline and the experience in a game. To me that is mistake #1. I believe that what moviegoers want is to experience more – not the same. I’ve seen the movie – now give me a new adventure in that same “universe” that I’ve fallen in love with. Let me explore that world and make it my own.
There are a few great examples in which this different approach has been applied and it has worked. Remember the excellent Chronicles of Riddick -games that explored subplots in the movie and actually explained the past of the main character. Unfortunately these examples are too few and too far between. Instead the EA’s of the world churn out mediocre game-fluff like the pathetic Harry Potter games. I mean that is just sad. How can you not make a great game based on the Potter Universe?? I would give my left arm for a Harry Potter sandbox/RPG-game. Think GTA + Red Dead Redemption + Mass Effect in the world of the world’s favorite wizard. And no – I don’t even necessarily need to play as Harry. I just want more adventures in his world.
I’m not saying EA and the gaming industry are solely to blame for this. It’s apparent that the studios and IP owners don’t understand gaming and the opportunity games represent as a platform to elevate their IP’s to a new level in the minds of the fans. I’m sure more often than not the bad decisions come from the Studios. They see games as a part of marketing and capitalizing on the movie and not as a longer term investment into engaging with their audience and in the best case building a new revenue model that might even surpass the profits made from one or two movies.
To his credit (even though I’ll never forgive him for ruining the prequels with Jar Jar and…well the list is tooo long) George Lucas and LucasArts have applied this model for a while now. They have not always succeeded but they have also produced some classic games…X-Wing anyone? And obviously the fantastic Knights of the Old Republic -games. At least they get it and want to use this amazing new medium to offer their fans new experiences in a their beloved galaxy far far away.
So I would not give up on the movie games Mr. Gibeau. Just take the advice of a very very old and wise green man: “Unlearn what you have learned”. And then start again.