Movie Games Have Finally Figured Out the Secret Gaming Formula

A long time ago in a GameStop bargain bin far, far away used to lay a horror: licensed games based on popular movies, TV shows and other popular media franchises. That dark age has finally begun clearing up its skies, and with the drop of a Mad Max trailer, it seems as if we have entered into the golden age of licensed games.

Throughout the years, there have been a handful of pioneering license games such as Spider-Man 2, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Lego Star Wars Series, and of course the classic that trumps all license based games, GoldenEye 007. There have also been plenty of game makers who have served us our gaming vegetables marinated in a bland carbon copy mixture of the adaptive series. Most notably, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Lost: Via Domus, Game of Thrones (2012), The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, Fight Club, any Spider-Man game that isn’t Spider-Man 2, and a misty mountain of mediocre Lord of the Rings tie-ins.

Why would licenses for popular franchises such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings mean we were doomed to get poor quality games? There are actually many reasons why; the most significant being time. Movie licenses have and always will be tied to a big-budget film due to game publishers anticipating there would be a large audience for it. Production would start on the game, but usually movies come out within two years unless there was an abnormal production still during the time of filming. This means that the game being developed would have less time than a AAA quality title. So now this presents a new problem, the game now has to be rushed through to finish in time in order to be released along with the movie, or it would be released months after the movie had hit theaters and left it, therefore, threatening a significant cut in profits especially if the film turned out to be a flop.

With the new era and tools of game design, titles can and should take time to be developed and license-based games produced by smart companies are no longer being tied on the backs of piggies for a ride to the box office in an attempt to provide the game value and significance. Big-budget license games such as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, and Alien: Isolation all have proven this as they have all discovered licensed games’ secret formula. This means something for the industry as no longer are fans of these franchises being subjected or ridiculed to games that are a mockery of their source material in a cheap attempt to rack in some cash. Publishers are actually taking their time developing and making these games stand on their own two feet when they could easily toss out a mediocre game and sell thousands of copies off the games brand name alone. Awful licensed games still exist in the bargain bin at GameStop, but the future looks promising in the sudden change in approach to license based series.
Games like Shadow of Mordor could have easily been cheaply made Hobbit games released with each movie, but instead we received a title that honors the brand. These games are no longer reliant on any particular film as they are crafting their own stories within the lore of these worlds there based off and providing fan service at the same time with much appreciated extensions and stories of many favorite franchises. Hopefully, this new approach to license games will continue forward and find its own corner of the gaming world and our hearts, but only time and the GameStop bargain bin will tell.