The concept of a videogame tie in to any big movie release has almost been around as long as the industry. The perception that most of these games are of a lower quality has been around just as long. We have all heard the myth that extra copies of the Atari version of E.T. found their way to a landfill because kids were not falling for buying a game based on name alone. That tradition of low quality releases has continued on to this day, with a few exceptions such as Rockstar’s The Warriors or Rare’s GoldenEyem, among others. Recently, EA Games’ President Frank Gibeau spoke about the factors that can hurt a movie tie-in and why EA is no longer very involved in that market.
In the past EA was a big contributor to licensed videogames. Some recent EA movie licensed games include the Godfather titles, numerous James Bond games, and Batman Begins. In an interview with Develop, Gibeau was asked why EA seems to be moving away from this aspect of business that they were so heavily involved with only a few years ago, specifically the James Bond franchise, and he responded:
“If you want to make a hit, you have to give a game time to get to quality. The days of licensed-based, 75-rated games copies are dead like the dinosaur. We dumped that licence because we felt like we needed to own more intellectual property, and we don’t like where James Bond is going with all the creative limitations on it. The percentage royalties you have to pay the licensors are going the wrong way for publishers. The margins are being squeezed. And, to top it all off, the movie-game business is falling apart.”
“Considering the total amount of money we have to spend on those types of James Bond games, and the total amount of man-hours we had to put into them, we thought; hell, let’s work on our own IP. The guys who made James Bond games for us, well yeah, they went on and made Dead Space.”
The above was in reference to the James Bond franchise, and while Gibeau makes a very interesting and valid point, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. On November 16th EA released the movie tie-in for the latest Harry Potter movie, Deathy Hallows Part 1, and it is sitting comfortably below his 75-rated threshold on Metacritc. Now whether or not his above words were in response to that game’s reception or just another example of one side of EA talking while the other does the opposite remains to be seen. Just like with Medal of Honor, the marketing side was putting out commercials stating that Call of Duty should watch out, while the other was saying the game was lacking quality.
If you do look at his words and take them for what they are without the shadow of EA behind them, the points he makes sound very true. It is hard enough making an original IP, and I imagine making something based off another form of media would be difficult. Multiple groups saying how things should be, rules on how things should work, royalties to be payed, and limited time frames are probably the reasons why we see so very few good movie games. I do agree that I would rather see a Dead Space 2 than another licensed game from EA. At least they understand that people want a quality experience other than just a recognized name on a box.
What do you think of games based on movies, and Giebeau’s quote?