A couple of years ago, the video game industry surpassed the movie industry in terms of revenue. That was a watershed moment that proved that games were for real. Many people actually valued games for entertainment, not just the closet geeks. Some argued that Hollywood would have to take a smaller and smaller role, as it got overshadowed by games. But I think that the two can co-exist quite easily, and create an immense amount of value through working together. How? Games based on movies. But not just games that are copies of movies. Games that add to movies.
I like some of the games that have been made in recent years where the focus was to provide a parallel, prequel, or sequel storyline for movies. Disregarding some old Star Wars games, I think the first example I saw was probably Enter the Matrix, which I played on my friend’s XBox. It was a parallel storyline to The Matrix Reloaded, and explained many things that weren’t shown in the movie. It was a great way to further immerse myself into the Matrix world and enjoy it (which was important, given how the first movie seemed to set much too high a bar for the sequels to follow). Playing this game took the Matrix storyline to another level.
I want games that are like that. Games should have great storylines and be able to stand on their own right. However, if they’re based on a movie, they also need to further draw you into the world that enthralled you in the first place. That’s why I dislike games that simply try to copy movies to cash in on a movie’s popularity. The gameplay is usually nothing special, and you know how the entire story will turn out anyway. There are no surprises, no suspense, and you feel like you’re just putting a puppet through a show, instead of actually being the hero/heroine in the adventure.
Here’s a thought. What if it was the norm to have games form the bridge between the movie and its sequel? But have endings open-ended, and interactive online. Then the movie sequel would take off from whatever was the result of the online game where everyone got to participate in the story. Or screenwriters could just use whatever happens in the virtual world as inspiration for the sequel. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Wouldn’t that tie you into wanting to see the movie that much more? Maybe it’s just me, but I think I’d feel an emotional attachment to see that sequel, because I was able to play my way through the game, and help shape the the basis for the next movie. Of course, I suppose I’d also be dreadfully afraid that they’d make it suck. ;)
However, it would be a cool way of getting your audience to participate in story development. Such efforts would have to be extremely coordinated, what with how long it takes to make a game these days. Would movie production companies be willing to wait that long to start on a sequel? If the games were really marketed as a package with the movie, I think audiences certainly would wait. But on the flip side, many of these companies seem more interested in delivering trash to make a quick buck, instead of creating an amazing experience.
The last installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies is being released this year. I love these movies, I think they’re just too funny. Well, later this year, there’s an MMORPG being released called Pirates of the Caribbean Online. It doesn’t actually look that amazing; I doubt I would play it. Besides the iffy gameplay, it also doesn’t really tie into the movie storylines or characters at all. And it’s the storylines and characters that really make me a fan of the movies. You know what I’d really like? A game that lets me figure out what happened to Commodore Norrington in between the first and second movie. That would be awesome. Call it The Chase for Jack Sparrow, or something like that. You could have two storylines, and play either Norrington or Sparrow.
I do wish games based on movies would be designed to be more than just copies of the movies more often.