We Have The Superhero Movies, So Where Are All The Games?


With the never-ending conveyor belt of superhero films having no end in sight, the respective studios capitalising on the merchandising is inevitable. Toys, TV series tie-ins and just about anything else has been created by Marvel/Disney and Warner Bros./DC for their ever-expanding universes. However, there’s one area that still seems to fall short, video games. Now you’re probably thinking I’m just not paying attention and that there are a ton of superhero video games available.

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You’ve probably already thought of the Batman: Arkham series, the Lego Marvel games and maybe even the upcoming Spider-Man game for PlayStation 4, but none of these really capitalise off the enormity of the films. The Batman games are standalone, the Lego games are more about Lego than Marvel and the jury is still out on the Spider-Man game.

It’s Not a New Idea

Now I’m not suggesting that Disney or Warner Bros. else should just start churning out games at every opportunity, we’d end up with a pile of mediocre bodge jobs if that happens. Yet, making quality games based off the biggest releases – such as the Avengers films – is surely an obvious idea. Half-hearted attempts were made in the past – Iron Man or The Amazing Spider-Man games were both forgettable.

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However, if you think back to before the introductions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC Extended Universe, quality superhero games were no foreign concept. X-Men had a smorgasbord of games – the best of which probably being the X-Men Legends series – and my personal favourite, the Spider-Man 2 game. The gameplay, writing and visuals were clearly treated with respect by the developers. At no point during my time playing these games did I feel as though they were rushed, buggy messes – something all too common with what superhero games there are today.

Where Are We Now?

Disney and Warner Bros. are more than capable of capitalising on their franchises through gaming, Disney jumped at the chance to make triple A Star Wars games since their acquisition of the rights. So, with all the vastly superior consoles and gaming PC’s we now have, why is it that the superhero games are few and far between and those that do exist are subpar?

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My personal theory is that the attempts that were made were so critically and commercially underwhelming, that the men with the money truly believe there is no appetite for a fully-fledged, triple A superhero game. Ultimately though, this was down to the low quality and lack of genuine developer interest. However, the only language that is spoken is the financial success of previous titles and since they failed they see no point in trying again.

Will We Ever See a Triple A Superhero Game?

As dejecting as this theory is, I can see this changing. The impending influx of Star Wars games being distributed by big names such as EA, plus the release of the new Spider-Man could be very significant. The success of these big releases could prove pivotal in creating a trend of superhero based triple A video games. Warner Bros. have already seen the success of the Batman: Arkham series and Disney may well try and replicate the Star Wars approach with the Marvel universe.

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The potential avenues for Disney and Warner Bros. to explore with the superhero genre in gaming is expansive. Hiring a well-respected developer to make a game with genuine depth and quality can ignite people’s enthusiasm. A great demonstration of this kind of self-creating hype would be the response to Visceral creating a Star Wars game. All we’ve seen is a mere 8 seconds of footage at E3 2016, but the speculation about what it could be has exploded. Transferring this kind of enthusiasm into a game based off superheroes would send fans into overdrive. Just imagine the response to potential open-world RPG that incorporated some of the most popular comic book characters.

Of course, this is all speculation, but I doubt I’m the only one who would want to see a superhero game that is a genuine joy to play. What superhero adaptation would you like to see make it way into video games?

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