The Curse Of The Movie Tie-in Game


Alex puts on his Indiana Jones fedora and investigates the curse of the movie tie-in game. 

Life is a series of constants and variables, and the same can be said for the video game industry. One particular constant, as it so happens, is the consistency of movie tie-in video games to be of rubbish quality and no worth to any gamer.

This is a shame, because movies are often based on interesting concepts which could make a seriously great game. Picture this; a Telltale developed Blade Runner as a point and click detective adventure, or The Hunger Games as a multiplayer arena survival game. I’m still waiting for Bethesda’s Lord Of The Rings open world RPG. So then why do so many games in this category suck?

The fact is that movie tie-in games are just that. They need to come out in time for the promotion of the actual movie’s release itself. This means they are often rushed and shoehorned out into gamer’s hands before they’re complete. The infamous glitchyness of the recent Star Trek game proves this point rather well.

Secondly, publishers can be safe in the knowledge that movie tie-in games are likely to sell well regardless of quality since they’re connected to a big movie being released in the same financial quarter. The doctrine of “profit before player satisfaction” can be seen in a number of games such as Green Lantern: Rise Of The Manhunters, Thor: God Of Thunder and Battleship. Big concepts are handed to small developers who have to run on a tight schedule and thus the resulting quality is inevitably poor.

Of course, one of the biggest scandals of the video game industry is to do with a movie tie-in game; yes, i’m talking about E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. When it was released in 1982, the game was critically panned and as a result sorely undersold. Supposedly, around 20 truckloads filled with unsold copies of the game were then buried in a landfill in Texas.

It has been called the first bad game to ever exist, it has been associated as a cause of the North American video game crash of 1983, and it is still mocked repeatedly to this day. Like I said, constants and variables.

This isn’t to say, however, that all movie tie-in video games are bad. Every now and again some truly great ones come along. Spiderman 2 and King Kong still remain as two of my favorite games of all time, as they treated the source material with respect and they found the perfect genre to suit their concept. However it is with regret to say that these are stark exceptions to the rule.

Perhaps one day we can live in a world without fear of unfinished and terrible movie tie-in video games. Until then, it is our duty as gamers to take every promotion for such a product with a pinch of salt.

If you genuinely like the look of such a game; wait for it to come out and check out the reviews, do some research into who developed it and for how long. I’ve heard that “ethical consumerism” is a thing these days so I think we should give it a shot.

As for me, I’m going to keep on waiting for The Elder Scrolls VI: Middle Earth.

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About alexavard95

Born and raised on the greatest European island in the world, Great Britain, Alex loves gaming, films, TV and about every other geeky thing you can think of.

There are 3 comments

  1. Nick Verboon

    Superman on Atari was almost as bad as ET and came out earlier. I owned both. Empire Strikes Back and Krull were terrible movie tie-ins from the olden days too. Life was tough on a gamer back then. I’d like to say the consistency of movie-based games has improved, but after all these years you can count the good ones on your fingers so I’d probably be wrong.

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