Comic book superheroes save a lot more than fiction ordinary citizens within their pages; they also save entire industries. First they saved modern cinema with creating a whole sub-genre that makes billions and then they found their way into television. The only medium they cannot seem to break into, however, is gaming — but why?
In many gamer’s opinions, the only really good, non-fighting superhero games that are out there is Rocksteady’s Arkham series. Aside from that, the market is filled with Lego games, slim pickings and bottom of the barrel garbage. So why is that such a popular and well-demanded genre, in all demographics, is experiencing such a tough time in the video game industry? The short answer would be because the video game industry just doesn’t need it as much as movies and television do. Game developers and publishers have no issue with creating new and engaging concepts and ideas.
A classic notion of Hollywood nowadays is that “they have run out of ideas,” which is not necessarily true. They have plenty of new ideas, it’s just that they are to afraid to take a financial risk with said ideas. When superheroes and zombies came along, all of a sudden those ideas were safe; anything regarding comic book heroes or reanimated corpses suddenly got the greenlight and they were all coming down the pipeline before you knew it. That’s not seen as often in games; we do have zombie games, but most of those are either of the ilk of The Walking Dead Survival Instinct or original spin-offs of other established licenses like Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Really if you stop and think about it, the only superhero game that’s out right now is Infamous: Second Son and the only zombie games out are from Telltale or an added survival mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Besides those games, there really there isn’t much regarding these two trends.
Which all leads back to the fact that the gaming industry just isn’t super desperate for them like film and television are. There are mobile, free-to-play games and games like Marvel Heroes and Disney Infinity, but all those games are directly marketed to the demographics that will actually play them, which are casual gamers and niche gamers. Casual gamers (not all but most) are the type of demographic that were not familiar with these types of comic book characters until the Marvel Cinematic Universe was setup and quickly became popular and now they are all about them. Due to this pop-culture phenomenon that made the superhero craze, for lack of a better term, “cool,” it had created a unique sub-genre that only these types of gamers are seeking out to play. Hardcore gamers are not looking to fall in with the rest of pop-culture, though.
So how does this explain the lack of superhero games? It’s because the television and film industries need programming like this to keep their heads above water, while the game industry doesn’t. Gaming is unique and the industry appreciates it for that. Although there is still a lot that is currently wrong with the gaming industry, which is neither or here nor there, it must be handed to them that they are willing to take risks with new and unique games instead of relying on trends to keep them relevant and most of all entertaining.