Multi-million selling games and Blade Runner aren’t a great match according to Randy Pitchford.
Gearbox seemingly has a knack for securing the rights high-profile sci-fi movie properties. As well as the Aliens license, which it is using to make the long-anticiapted Colonial Marines game, Gearbox also got its hands on the Blade Runner license. Unfortunately, Gearbox didn’t get to make the Blade Runner game it wanted to as everyone at the studio liked having a job just a little bit too much.
“That game would’ve cost like $40m to make and sold about 600,000 units – and that would have been the end of us,” studio boss Randy Pitchford told Official PlayStation Magazine. He continued, saying that it was essentially a choice between its vision for the game and making money, and that the two weren’t especially compatible.
“There’s no rational business model that would have allowed that to make sense,” he said. “If we’d made it with a business model that did work, it would not have been the Blade Runner game we all would have wanted.”
Blade Runner is a seminal sci-fi movie, which was released in 1982. It was loosely based on the Phillip K Dick novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” although it took the story in a much different direction. The movie – in which Harrison Ford plays a cop tasked with hunting down a gang of escaped biological robots called “replicants” – explores themes of compassion, identity, and humanity, people have debated whether Ford’s character, Deckard, was really human for decades. While the movie wasn’t a huge success on release, it has proven incredibly influential, and works like anime Ghost in the Shell, the game Deus Ex, and even the Battlestar Galactica reboot have all taken inspiration from it.
As Pitchford says, it’s hard to imagine a Blade Runner game that does the movie justice. It’s not impossible though, just tremendously difficult. Perhaps the best way to make a Blade Runner game would be to go the same route that Gearbox has taken with Colonial Marines, and make a game set in the same universe, but use different characters. It’s a tactic that’s worked before – the 1997 Blade Runner adventure game told a parallel story and sold over a million copies – and there’s no reason why it couldn’t work again.