Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Games Based on Existing Media: The Right Way to Do It

Batman: Arkham series of games are considered the best super-hero games ever made. But why? Simple, they didn't try to rush it to coincide with other launches, like movies or TV shows. Arkham is it own world, its own story. Because it did not had any tight schedule to meet and had any compromise with a previous existent product. Arkham could be its own game.

Most games based on existing media suffer from the fact that they can't deviate from the established universe because either the original creators don't allow it or because the developers involved don't want to deviate from an established world. And that hurts more than help.

Take the Lord of the Rings universe as an example. If you create a game base on the books, you can't allow the player to deviate from the story. For example, if you are in the role of Aragorn, you can't just take the ring from Frodo and do all the Mordor trip yourself. And nobody wants to play a game where you can't be the main hero. Or a game where they know the fact that they have no effect in the world they play.

The Arkham games do it right because you are the goddamn Batman and you still play a game without knowing what happens next. And that is fundamental to make a good game based on franchises that people already love. They don't want to just press buttons while a story they already know happens around them. They want to feel like the story is happening because of them.

We will hardly see changes on the way the cross media happens. It is easier and cheaper to just tag famous franchise on the box and sell bucket loads to unsuspecting consumers. But successful attempts like Arkham can make more developers and publishers wanting to run the risk of creating something truly new with existing franchises. One can only hope.

Because all we want is to be the goddam Batman!

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