Licensed Games: good - bad - how to judge before you buy

So, yeah, I haven't finished Arkham Knight yet. Been a busy couple of years and with my AADD I keep stopping, starting and playing other things.

I have to face an Escort Jim Gordon scene next. An Escort Mission. Ugh. But, overall, I'm really liking the game. I like Arkham City more than Asylum.

Makes me think about the old rule of thumb on licensed games: they will tend to stink. Avoid them. Money gets spent on the license that could have gone to development for a quick cash grab on a popular license and you pay top dollar for a meh game.

That's not a slam dunk view point anymore. Since the N64 to now, we've had among others

Pokemon sorta it's on topic by itself.
Goldeneye
Star Wars Rogue Squadron
Shadows of Empire (I liked it a lot).
Star Wars Battlefront
KOTOR
Spiderman 2
Arkham Series
Shadows of Mordor etc.

My own favorite game of medium esteem is the PS3 Captain America game. A poor man's Arkham game but it worked for me. Slamming Nazis with the shield was a hoot.

But we've also had a slew of mediocre Star Wars games, Iron Man games, even meh James Bond, Super Heroes for Thor and Aquaman.

And now Star Wars Battlefront getting major shade for loot crates.

A new Spiderman coming at the end of 2017.

Guess all you can do is read the reviews... though... grade inflation.

Your own thoughts on licensed games?

Typically you have the two varieties of licensed games. One thats an earnest effort from a developer to use the license and do something good or cool with it.

The flip-side is when the license holder is releasing a movie (usually these days) or toy line or whatever, and headhunts someone to churn out a game to go alongside it. Besides not having the organic base idea to make a game (which is why most of them are just clones of current popular games), the product is often rushed out to hit the relevant deadline.

They obviously seem to work better when the come out years after the film or aren't tied to a specific film release or whatever and are thus free to tell their own story. The two best I can think of off the top of my head are GoldenEye and the two Chronicles of Riddick games (both of which were better than the films IMHO).

If they have to be rushed or else follow the plot of the official film, chances are they will be terrible.

Chewster:
They obviously seem to work better when the come out years after the film or aren't tied to a specific film release or whatever and are thus free to tell their own story. The two best I can think of off the top of my head are GoldenEye and the two Chronicles of Riddick games (both of which were better than the films IMHO).

If they have to be rushed or else follow the plot of the official film, chances are they will be terrible.

The first wave of Lego (Whatever) games were genuinely pretty good. Kid games, sure, but well done. Nowadays they're churned out alongside their respective properties and are basically shovelware.

As a rule of thumb :

- Those linked to a long running IP are pretty good as people don't want to ruin the IP for quick money and the expected audiance are hardcore fans anyway

- Those linked to events like movies coming out tend to be horrible as they are rushed to fit a release date, didn't come into existance as some original idea to use an existing franchise but as an effort to monetize the event and are often developed at a time when the makers can't know much of the inspiration as it is not released yet and have to guess all the details.

There are some exceptions, but generally the guideline works.

Yeah agreed- when a licensed game is set to release alongside a new movie- that's your best indicator it's gonna be garbage. Let's take a look at some of the good ones:

A certain list of quality Movie Tie-In Games.

Game: Disney's Aladdin (1993)
Film: Aladdin (1992)
Years the game came out after the movie: 1

Game: GoldenEye 007 (1997)
Film: GoldenEye (1995)
Years the game came out after the movie: 2

Game: The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (2004)
Film: Pitch Black (2000)
Years the game came out after the movie: 4

Game: Blade Runner (1997)
Film: Blade Runner (1982)
Years the game came out after the movie: 15

Game: Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)
Films: Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989)
Years the game came out after the movie: 20

Game: Scarface: The World is Yours (2006)
Film: Scarface (1983)
Years the game came out after the movie: 23

Game: The Warriors (2005)
Film: The Warriors (1979)
Years the game came out after the movie: 26!!

My thoughts on licensed games?

Well, the era of the crappy tie-in game is mostly over. Or at least on consoles/pc. They seem to have largely gone away somewhere the turn of the decade. Although they're still around in full force on mobile platforms, resplendent in all the p2w MT-laden sleaziness that all too often entail. I found this article which may help explain why.

And yeah, I've had a look over games released this year for (non-mobile) major systems and only found two real examples of tie-ins: Cars 3, by all accounts a perfectly serviceable racing game for kids; and Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy, more mediocre than truly bad. Then there's the LEGO games, which arguably aren't so much bad as just the same goddamn thing over and over again with a different coat of paint. The most recent stinker I can think of is the Ghostbusters '16 tie-in, which flopped so badly, both critically and commercially, its dev filed for bankruptcy a mere 3 days after release and ended up millions in debt.

As for licensed games that aren't tie-ins. Those have been pretty good on average the past few years. Alien: Isolation, Mad Max, Star Wars Battlefront 1-2, Shadow of Mordor/War, the Arkham series. Some of these have (large) problems, but incompetent gameplay and cheap production values because of a shoe-string budget and development schedule are arguably not among them.

Licensed games are primarily made to push the license, so they're disproportionately likely to be bad vs most games.

But, with a talented and motivated enough team, they can be good, and in those cases, the results can be nice if you're a fan of the properties.

So, just read the reviews before jumping in. This is always important, but even moreso for licensed titles. In addition, Youtube is a thing. Watch gameplay videos, too.

I don't think Licensed games are inherently bad. It's like any other game, you get the good ones and you get the shitty ones. The latest Star Wars Battlefront thing has really nothing to do with it being a licensed game and everything to do with it being EA.

Chimpzy:
My thoughts on licensed games?

Well, the era of the crappy tie-in game is mostly over. Or at least on consoles/pc. They seem to have largely gone away somewhere the turn of the decade. Although they're still around in full force on mobile platforms, resplendent in all the p2w MT-laden sleaziness that all too often entail. I found this article which may help explain why.

And yeah, I've had a look over games released this year for (non-mobile) major systems and only found two real examples of tie-ins: Cars 3, by all accounts a perfectly serviceable racing game for kids; and Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy, more mediocre than truly bad. Then there's the LEGO games, which arguably aren't so much bad as just the same goddamn thing over and over again with a different coat of paint. The most recent stinker I can think of is the Ghostbusters '16 tie-in, which flopped so badly, both critically and commercially, its dev filed for bankruptcy a mere 3 days after release and ended up millions in debt.

As for licensed games that aren't tie-ins. Those have been pretty good on average the past few years. Alien: Isolation, Mad Max, Star Wars Battlefront 1-2, Shadow of Mordor/War, the Arkham series. Some of these have (large) problems, but incompetent gameplay and cheap production values because of a shoe-string budget and development schedule are arguably not among them.

Great article! Thanks for sharing.

I think you guys are confusing licensed games with Tie-in games. Those are completely different things, because most games are made under some sort of license.

South Park Stick of Truth and But Whole, The Witcher games, BattleFront, Shadow of War/Mordor, these are all license games with varying degrees of quality.

As for Movie-tie in games, those are almost universally bad. Typically they are trapped by tight deadlines and trying to adhere to a movie story-line that may not fit with a game very well. Games can usually expand on the film's story, but they more often than not also follow the movie storyline.

I can only think of two good Movie Tie-in games. Spider-Man 2, and Wolverine Origins (which was the only cool Wolverine game ever made and was even better than the movie it tied into).

CritialGaming:
I think you guys are confusing licensed games with Tie-in games. Those are completely different things, because most games are made under some sort of license.

South Park Stick of Truth and But Whole, The Witcher games, BattleFront, Shadow of War/Mordor, these are all license games with varying degrees of quality.

As for Movie-tie in games, those are almost universally bad. Typically they are trapped by tight deadlines and trying to adhere to a movie story-line that may not fit with a game very well. Games can usually expand on the film's story, but they more often than not also follow the movie storyline.

I can only think of two good Movie Tie-in games. Spider-Man 2, and Wolverine Origins (which was the only cool Wolverine game ever made and was even better than the movie it tied into).

The two are closely related. Shadows of Mordor has a movie tie in component (people know it's world in part because of the movies) but is not really something like, Star Wars, The Phantom Menace PC game... a game version of the movie. But the timing of Thor the PS3 game, while not a movie version of the game, sure was meant to cash in on the movie. More a tie in than, say, the Riddick games, that simply used the same character and continuity.

Gorfias:

The two are closely related. Shadows of Mordor has a movie tie in component (people know it's world in part because of the movies) but is not really something like, Star Wars, The Phantom Menace PC game... a game version of the movie. But the timing of Thor the PS3 game, while not a movie version of the game, sure was meant to cash in on the movie. More a tie in than, say, the Riddick games, that simply used the same character and continuity.

Yeah but trying to cash in on a movie with an original game in the same universe is different than literally releasing a game based on the movie.

CritialGaming:

Yeah but trying to cash in on a movie with an original game in the same universe is different than literally releasing a game based on the movie.

Can't think of that going particularly well. Closest I can think off the top of my head, besides lego versions of movies, is the Gamecube Lord of the Rings 3rd person games. They were OK.

Who would have thought "Avatar the Game" wouldn't be a smash. :-)

image

EDIT: After making fun of this game, I watched a review that says the gameplay is boring and average but if you have it on a 3d TV (which I do, with a PS3) it is quite a site. At $15 used at Gamestop, I may just pick it up for that experience.

How to judge? Stop buying game near launch. Listen to reviews. You know, like any other game

image

I think this is the best license game ever. unlike other license games. this doesnot suck.

the reason most license games are not good because developer do not pay attention and only making it to appeal the fans of particular movie.

trunkage:
How to judge? Stop buying game near launch. Listen to reviews. You know, like any other game

These days, more user reviews. Professional ones are OK. They'll often tell you if a game is flat out broken. But too often, especially lately, even games that are pay to win, which IMHO means they are broken, are getting 9 out of 10s.

Knowing there's a quality studio behind the game helps. Who made Shadow of Mordor? Monolith. Arkham and Mad Max? Rocksteady. The Warriors? Rockstar. Dunno how popular Creative Assembly was before Alien: Isolation, but props to them too.

Subtitling your game "The Game" on the other hand just screams cash-in.

Johnny Novgorod:
Who made Shadow of Mordor? Monolith. Arkham and Mad Max? Rocksteady.

Rocksteady had diddly-squat to do with Mad Max. That's why the vehicle physics were actually fun.

Although there has always been some good licensed games along all gaming history, they stink less on this console gen because it's become too costly to develop console crap with just a licensed brand on it. Licensed mobile games on the other hand...

 

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