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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Die Videogame industry, Die! - part 4 - movie videogames

Part 4 of a 10 part series about why I want the video game industry to implode, causing massive layoffs & putting most devs out of business so that the industry can come back much better than it currently is.

It's common knowledge to gamers that "movie-based videogames suck".

To quote Battlestar Galactica: All this has happened before and all this will happen again....

Here's a bit of history of comic books: In the late 70's Marvel Comics published comic book adaptations of Star Wars & Empire Strikes Back. They were pretty successful, spawning an ongoing monthly Star Wars title. Followed by comic adaptations of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bladerunner, etc. These adaptations tried to be exact to the movie, basically in comic book form. Sometimes they showed scenes cut from the final version of the movie. Way before DVD, this was the only way you'd ever get to see these scenes.

When they first started, the comic adaptations were fairly good... they had really good art that looked like the characters, and the dialogue was all lifted straight from the script. But by the late 80's through the 90's, Marvel and other comic companies had really worn out the "comic adaptation of the movie" formula. Fans were tired of picking up a comic that was supposed to "be the movie", but instead was just a tired, cheap, quick cash-grab.

Does any of this sound familiar to gamers?

I can't figure out what game was the FIRST based on a movie, but one of the earliest I can think of is GoldenEye for the N64. I've never played it, but it's highly-regarded for it's FPS format & dual-wielding gameplay.

Fast forward to the present, and movie-based video games clog the shelves. Most--hell, ALMOST ALL of them-- are considered to be shovelware.

I don't consider games like Star Wars: Battlefront or games like that to be "movie games", because they're not meant to be straight adaptations where you're "playing the movie". Star Wars: Battlefront is more like a game that sets itself in the universe of the movies. That's different. It wasn't timed to release right before a movie, nor did it seem like a quick cash-in. It felt like the devs thought, "Hey, I have an idea for a twist on the Star Wars universe...." Which is how games SHOULD be made: based upon GREAT IDEAS FOR A GAME. That's probably how GoldenEye was made.

Movie games are more like, "if we have a game to go along with this upcoming movie it'll act as advertising for it". A lot of movie games come out weeks before the movie does. It's pretty obvious that the deadlines are tight, because they have to coincide with the movie release. Is it a surprise then, that the games seem like they're rushed through development? To get it done in time, publishers like EA Games, THQ, Ubisoft, etc. probably use a basic game engine, and wrap it with the "feel" of the movie they're adapting. So movie games all feel generic & the same.

What really pisses me off is that it seems like most of the games scheduled to come out are games based on movies. It's true that the Wii has some of the saddest video game offerings of all the consoles, but even for the others, I'm sure movie games make up the bulk of their releases. It's just that anyone who's bought & played games for a time has learned to ignore them.

Look, I'm not against the idea of games based on movies. But the genesis of them has to be "here's a great idea for a game based on this movie". Instead, what we're getting is, "Ok, we need a [movie of the week] game, and we need it in 6 months". There's so much money being made from videogames, and people who make that crap have no business being in the biznizz of making videogames. From companies on down to the individual creators of this junk, they need to be disolved/fired/whatever and find something other to do-- NOT create videogames.


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