License Games Done Right

Two games make a trend, right? If so, I really enjoy the recent trend of making license-based games demonstrated by Batman: Arkham Asylum and new Transformers: War for Cybertron.

What both games did is they completely ignored any opportunities to do any movie tie-ins. The games releases were not synchronized with any movies from the same franchise. The stories are completely unrelated. Even visually, both games completely ignored any templates set by their movie counter-parts. I presume this allowed the developers to spend as much time as they needed to adapt the franchise to the specifics of the games medium.

As a result, Batman: Arkham Asylum became one of the most memorable Batman games yet and certainly one of the moist acclaimed games of 2009. I haven’t played Transformers beyond the multi-player demo yet. But I enjoyed from what I’ve seen so far.

Full disclosure: Transformers are one of my favorite series I grew up with as a child. Even though the shallowness of the story and the characters are utterly unbearable for me today, I can’t deny my emotional attachment to them. This soul-tearing mixture of visceral fascination and sheer embarrassment is what I see faithfully reproduced in this game. In this regard it is the most attractive Transformers game I’ve seen so far. Plus, everything that reverts the damage done by Michael Bay is good in my book.

(And secretly I still hope for a Christopher Nolan or Neill Blomkamp to come in and make a Transformers movie I’m not embarrassed to watch).

But generally speaking, I really hope this mode of dealing with license games will catch on. I think in can do a great job at allowing games to emancipate themselves as a medium on the own.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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