Game Development Games Marketing/Business

Hollywood Video Games Suck

The brave and noble bloggers of the Round Table this month have written some great posts about film-to-game adaptations. I was originally going to write that games are usually just another brand-associated piece of merchandise, like the candy bar, the Happy Meal toy, and the coloring book, but some people covered it. I was going to write about how game developers can actually make a good game based on a movie, and demonstrate it with my memory of what people said about Beavis and Butt-head, but someone mentioned an even better example in the Chronicles of Riddick games. I noticed that people are putting a lot of the hate on E.T., a game which I loved playing as a kid, but as someone long ago already wrote about how good a game it is, I don’t think I have too much to add to it other than to say “Hey, if you didn’t play it, don’t knock it until you tried it!” I could write about the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory post-mortem I attended, about meeting a programmer who left the company after that project, and my experience with playing the game, but someone has already discussed how hard it is to make a game based on a movie while satisfying requirements from the publisher, the movie production house, and the estate of whoever owns the rights to the story, especially when the movie itself is on a short production schedule.

What will I write about? How bad games based on movies are bad for the industry’s public image and are possibly detrimental to its growth.

Yes, even a bad video game with a movie tie-in will sell more than a good video game without one would. I understand that the funding from those games can go into paying for good games to get made. It makes sense.

But what about Joe Hypothetical, the person who loved WALL·E, and just now bought the game? According to my latest issue of PC Gamer, the game is horrible. Now, maybe it just isn’t made for people who would read PC Gamer and so the review might be biased, but according to Metacritic, the WALL·E reviews are mixed. IGN’s reviewer loved it. But let’s say for (my) argument’s sake that the game sucked. What about Joe?

As much as Joe loved the movie and might wish the game was awesome, he might admit that it was horrible. So what’s Joe going to play next?

Well, nothing. If this big-budget game sucked, a game he paid upwards of $50 for, why would he pay that much again to play a game that was made without the backing of Hollywood? He’s not a glutton for punishment. Leave that kind of “fun” to the nerds. And so Joe won’t play games in general, he won’t pay for games, and will continue to be a non-gamer, which is of no benefit to the game industry as a whole.

Maybe it won’t be that bad. Joe might be one of those people who play casual games on portals to kill a few minutes here and there, and so maybe one game won’t spoil him completely. But it will sour him on the experience of paying the equivalent of 5 tickets to a movie for a game, enough to give him pause whenever any game is released, even if he might be interested.

Meanwhile, WALL·E sold over a million copies, so at least Hollywood got its take.

Take 2 and Rockstar Games get a lot of flak for making games that put the video game industry in a defensive position from morality critics, but what kind of message do other publishers send when they agree to release games by the movie’s release date, regardless of the quality of the game? I understand that there are pressures and requirements and that the developer is trying to make a good game out of a bad situation, but why would the publisher agree to allow games that look bad on the company and people involved? Is it really just because it is a lucrative position to be in?

Wait. I just read that question. Duh. If you are measuring your company on the quality of your games, then it would be absurd to release crap. But if you were measuring your company based on how many units you sold, then “quality of your games” isn’t decided by PC Gamer reviews. What reviews? People voted with their wallets, so clearly this game was of quality enough.

It’s just frustrating to think that opportunities are wasted and yet rewarded so much. I can’t see how it is good for the game industry overall if you have millions of people out there who think that games are nothing more than simple and frustrating diversions, especially when good games can be made with a bit more effort and a bit more push-back by the publisher.

[tags] video games, hollywood, marketing, business, game development [/tags]

One reply on “Hollywood Video Games Suck”

I do wonder if someone with less expectations from videogames will see this as flawed, however? It’s an interesting debate to be had. If I were reading a horrible schlock of a novel but it was perhaps the first novel I read, or I hadn’t read something astounding yet, would it be as apparent to someone who had a more full range?

Of course, here we’re also dealing with both accessibility and ease of game play lending itself to that element of fun people are trying to capture. Considering these games keep selling, do these people really believe the game to be bad or does each of these releases just reveal that they’re tapping different markets after different releases?

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