2014 has been the locus of expectation for a new Batman Arkham game ever since series developer Rocksteady was linked to a possible Silver Age, Justice League prequel last July. But apparently Warner Bros. Interactive has hastier intentions. Though not naming a development studio, the publisher revealed today that a new installment in the Arkham franchise will be arriving in 2013.
The intriguing, rather surprising news stems from Time Warner’s Q4 conference call (via Yahoo! Finance), where Time Warner CFO and Chief Administrative Officer John K. Martin singled out the game to project a sanguine outlook for 2013:
“And we also have a strong games release this year, which will include the next release in the Batman Arkham franchise.”
While unexpected, the timing isn’t exactly unreasonable. With Batman soaring to his greatest gaming heights ever on the success of the Arkham franchise — 2009’s highly regarded Batman: Arkham Asylum and 2011’s highly revered Batman: Arkham City — it’s only natural that Warner Bros. would be eager to keep him there. The only question now: how?
It isn’t just the way Arkham City ended (spoiler-free hint: It was rather definitive) that seemed to place the series on a nebulous trajectory; the uncertain state of Warner Bros.’s Caped Crusader movie stewardship — with Christopher Nolan’s departure prompting speculation about a possible Batman reboot and union with the upcoming Justice League film — has left the list of Arkham’s potential avenues wide open.
There is, of course, the chance that Martin was mentioning Rocksteady’s potential 2014 Silver Age project — rumored to adjoin Batman with the Justice League as they face the Joker for the first time — but this seems unlikely. Forgetting, for a second, that studios rarely advance their anticipated release dates by a year (and that at this point, such a move could also make the difference between current- and next-gen consoles) Rocksteady has signaled a clear intent to upend the current Arkham formula. Teaming Batman up with Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman — that’s an overhaul better suited for more extensive, three-year project; for the next generation and for greater synergy with Warner’s film agenda.
So back to speculating about this year. Should Warner Bros. release a new Arkham in 2013, employing a different studio than Rocksteady, a Justice League prequel is hardly the only option. For one, there’s an Arkham Asylum prequel. Just a few weeks ago, 15 domain names were uncovered that Warner had registered for a new Arkham game, and several — “Batman Arkham Begins,” “Batman Arkham Origins” and “Batman Arkham Stories,” for instance — hinted at a connection to the universe’s roots. Not only would such a title serve as an effective buffer between Arkham City and a Rocksteady Silver Age metastasis, it would allow the new studio to explore their own storylines — perhaps even building an entire game around side characters, as Arkham City DLC’s like Catwoman and Harley Quinn’s Revenge (where Robin became playable) showed an aptitude for.
And even still, there so many factors to consider: Next-gen? Current-gen? Both? Neither (Surprise Vita-exclusive?)? Release date? Title? It goes without saying that we’re curious to hear more. For now, though, let us know what you think. Tell us below what you’d like to see from the Batman Arkham franchise in 2013.
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