Hollywood playing catch-up with videogames

Fri Aug 21, 2009 7:56am EDT
 
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By Scott Roxborough

COLOGNE, Germany (Hollywood Reporter) - Films and videogames would seem a match made in heaven, so why are games based on hit movies so bad? Despite sharing the same demographic of devoted fans, action, sci-fi and fantasy films rarely translate into branded videogame hits.

"Movie-based games almost never work. No matter how cool the movie, the game is almost always lame," said Philipp Dollinger, a gamer reviewer for German blog Pressakey.com and one of thousands of gamers swarming the halls of the gamescom trade fair, which runs until Sunday in Cologne.

"Most are just bad imitations of better games already out there," he added.

Hollywood has been burned before in the gaming space. Just ask Brash Entertainment, the U.S. group that raised $400 million to buy up film licenses and turn them into hit games. After two major flops -- an "Alvin and the Chipmunks" game and one based on Fox's sci-fi feature "Jumper" (2008) -- Brash folded. It was a similar story for Pandemic Brisbane, the Australian outpost of the Los Angeles-based game developer, which shuttered in February after a disastrous attempt to deliver an ambitious game based on Christopher Nolan's blockbuster "The Dark Knight."

Despite those warning signs, there are plenty of new A-list movie ties at gamescom, and plenty of developers saying they have learned their lessons.

LONG-TERM PROJECTS

"For a lot of movies, the game is an afterthought," said Jake Meri, a producer at LucasArts. "The filmmakers are close to finishing production and they say, 'Oh, what about the game?' But a good game takes years of development."

LucasArts put in the time for its new release, "Star Wars: The Old Republic," a game it is developing with Canadian outfit BioWare for games giant Electronic Arts.   Continued...

 
<p>The new video game 'Madden NFL '09" is projected on a wall at the Madden NFL &rsquo;09 VIP Premiere party hosted by EAQ Sports and XBox in Los Angeles, California August 7, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>