Just came across this article from Yahoo!™ Finance, about video games based on movies....
Summer movie video games seek to terminate stigma
The article is very mainstream-targeted, so you'd expect it only to cover the most basic facts of the subject. This quote stands out:
"Movie games have a bad history," said Jeff Poffenbarger, senior producer at "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" game developer Raven Software. "There is a stigma to movie games, for a thousand different reasons. They come out and they don't live up to the hype people create."
That pretty much sums up the "movie game" genre for me, and probably most of us who've played more than a few games based om movie licenses. But it's not just some vague, "a thousand different reasons" that movie games suck.
Let's be honest here.... they suck probably for some specific reasons. Like the general mentality of movie-franchise video game developers. They get a licensed property, and they pull out one of their generic game engines & try to mold it to fit the property; basically, put the movie look & characters skin over this generic gameplay engine. I've talked about all this before.
From the article:
Revenues for movie games vary, according to market researcher NPD Group. Box office popularity typically translates to game sales. For example, "Iron Man," last year's second-highest grossing film, was 2008's top-selling game based on a movie, selling a respectable 1.4 million. (A game based on "The Dark Knight," last year's No. 1 movie, wasn't released.)
"Some have done very well. Some have done OK," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier of the overall performance of licensed movie games. "I'd say the younger the target audience, the more important the license itself is in making the game successful. The older the target audience, the gameplay quality comes more to the forefront."
So basically this NPD analyst is saying that quality is secondary for movie games, especially if they're targeted at younger audiences. Nice. And as she says, they can be a major cash-cow. So of course game devs & publishers are going to try to get in on that $$$$...
It's not entirely the fault of greedy/lazy game studios trying to maximize their profits while minimzing their creative expenditures. If people avoided bad games, they'd become less & less profitable, so logically they should happen less often.
Still, it's not always easy to steer clear of temptation. I can get as starry-eyed as any gamer when games of my favourite movie franchises hit the shelves.... [movie franchise X] game comes out & I *want* it to be good, 'cause the movie was so good... y'know?
Crappy movie-based games is a major problem, and I don't know what can be done about it. Right now, I'm just waiting for the "genre" to eventually implode-- if they can't make back the money they put in to make the game-- and hopefully the movie licenses will be given out much more selectively, to studios that have A GREAT IDEA of how to use them.
But I know this is just a dream world right now.