You can sell a kid a movie ticket for $10, a DVD for $20, and plush of their favorite character for $15. But a video game tie-in to your movie franchise? That’ll run ‘em $60.
You see why businessmen mandate development projects like this. It’s lucrative. Kids get home from the theater singing songs from the animated film, pretending to be the heroes, and talking to all their friends about how awesome it was. All manner of merchandise make their way onto Christmas lists, but none so expensive as _________ The Movie The Game.
These titles are purchased based on their cover, not their contents. These are not developer passion projects, instead, they’re corporate cash-ins. That’s why they are utter shovelware.
Speaking generally, you’ll find this to be true. For the rare developer who actually puts effort into making a compelling product, unfortunately, the industry doesn’t always pay attention because wolf has been cried too many times.
There is a way to create a movie tie-in that isn’t complete garbage, and it’s simple: Build off one aspect of the franchise’s world.
The most common mistake is recreating the movie beat-by-beat and trying to make the same story playable. That’s wrong, boring, and not fun. Movies are made to be watched, not played. The film is always better than the game that tries to recreate it with lower-paid writers, worse graphic engines, junior voice actors, all directed by people who don’t love video games.
Rather than churning out a sub-par interpretation of the movie, get into that world. Grab ahold of one fascinating thing. Make a game about it.
These ones did it right:
Quidditch is a sport from the world of Harry Potter. The movie-to-game adaptations are trash, but Quidditch stands on its own as a unique and compelling experience. It’s perfect for a video game; competitive, full of fantastical elements, and featured heavily in the movies.
What kid coming home from the movies wouldn’t want to race on a broom or in a podracer? The best way to do that is through video games.
And let’s be honest, this isn’t just about children. Star Wars: The Force awakens debuted in winter of 2015, and a huge portion of the Earth’s population were in the mood for some wars of the star variety. Look no further than Battlefront.
The movie-game is a trap. Instead, look to people who are passionate about the source material and want to bring the world to life in a tangible way through gaming. Put them in charge.