Commentary

So Far, Mostly Mediocre Movie Tie-Ins

It's been a good summer for movie tie-in games: "Spiderman 3," "Transformers," "Ratatouille," "Shrek the Third," "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," and "The Simpsons Movie," with some other possibilities upcoming in late July and early August.

Sadly, these licensed video games are, for the most part, mediocre at best. And sometimes, they are much, much worse. They are rarely innovative, often derivative, and almost never worth the $60 that the latest-generation titles go for. And it's going to stay that way until Hollywood studios start taking video games seriously.

Right now, movie tie-in games are an afterthought. Sell the license, let a game developer put something together with little to no support, and add another line on the revenue reports. Video game developers are starting to learn the pattern. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, former Shiny Entertainment boss Dave Perry -- who worked on video game/movie tie-in projects like "Enter the Matrix" --said that if a deal with a movie studio feels "half-baked," game devs should just say no. "[It] "depends on whether or not they are really going to be there for you," he told GamesIndustry. "If the answer is 'maybe' then you should probably say no to that relationship."

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Perry's work on "Enter the Matrix" is notable in the universe of movie-tie ins. Although the game was not stellar in execution, the concept was excellent. Players took control of two supporting characters from the film -- Niobe and Ghost -- and followed a storyline parallel to the plotline of the second "Matrix" movie. Moviegoers who played the game could watch the movie and see it in a new and different way. Instead of just throwing some "Matrix" characters and slow-motion effects into a first-person shooter retread, Perry's team put together a new story in the "Matrix" universe, which is exactly what developers and movie studios should shoot for when they're putting together their movie tie-in game.

Video games are an entirely different storytelling medium, and they need to be treated as such. Some movie licenses have enormous potential to become classic games, but they need to be more than just a marketing scheme.

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