In an age where having an individual product isn’t enough, where building a brand through viral marketing via ‘synergized releases’ — its easy to lose sight of what’s important. Did we need the insulting and insensitive advertising campaign circulating the release of Dante’s Inferno? When you ate Dominio’s pizza in the 90’s where you thinking, “You know, if I could avoid the Noid and eat pizza, life would be so close to completion.” Maybe the Doom movie should have been released straight to DVD, seeing as theater goers typically do not support video game movies starring men [Angelina Jolie & Milla Jovovich]. The point is, we have come far from the days of Ducktales and Aladdin. We exist in a time where seeing a broken cd on the sidewalk is common. Furthermore, seeing brands stretched and skewed to make a buck — makes what you liked about said brand much more disposable.
Let’s center this discussion on games, because it seems easier out of all the translations and extended epilogues of plots — games currently seem to have minimal crossover appeal that lasts as long as the average science fiction book that is rehashed into a movie currently airing on the Syfy channel [sorry Johnny Mnemonic]. Books are a touch harder to put a metric on. This is probably because books have been around longer and have since had quality adaptations made into various different mediums. Books have by-and-large been accepted by society since their inception [barring those dirty mags under your mattress] which is a status the games industry had never really strived to attain until now. Since the games industry is being sucked into the Hollywood cash cow vacuum, nothing will be sacred.
Games seem to be the perfect visual storyboards for comic book spinoffs, terribly animated anime prequels and of course the nonsensical blockbuster movie. My questions are: what is the goal of this? Is it to take the niche audience of a specific game genre and hope that they are gullible enough to buy that Happy Meal inspired toy? Granted some do. It makes total sense for Oblivion to have a book series because chances are there are some Western-RPG nerds out there that engage in reading indepth science-fantasy novels that further extends an already large universe. But hey, I’m no judger. I spent eight dollars to see Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in the theater because, I too, was a dumb teenager with nothing better to do with my money.
Why is it worth the risk? I’ve heard rumblings that the Halo novels are worth reading and by some stretch of weird luck that those novels sell really well. Its completely wrong for me to try and decide whether a company is going that extra mile in the name of a dollar or in the name of their fan base [or both for that matter]. Terrible movies based on video games will be in a consistent urine soaked production flow, probably just as much as the comic book-to-movie films have been in recent years. But unlike this nerd wave of comic book movies, games have the glaring problem of taking a brand that doesn’t benefit anywhere outside of its own medium. Hell, even in the very medium we juice brands — which Guitar Hero are we up to? Five? Six? Knowing that Uncharted and maybe Gears of War are being made into movies should be the biggest warning sign to game developers and fans alike. Who is asking for this? What fan claws at the door of a game publisher and demands … oh wait, I just read the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation sentence again.
I think the only evidence of a movie keeping a brand alive, or at least benefiting a property is the Tomb Raider movies. That, my friend, is sad. And to be honest, the Tomb Raider movies only helped the fictional character Lara Croft, which by proxy helped the Tomb Raider-games stay in the minds of the casual fan. A group of people I still don’t understand. Tomb Raider was spiraling down a huge boob-filled pipe of sales fail and for some reason fans stuck around for two movies to see the once mediocre video game series make a not-so-awful game in Tomb Raider: Legend. How common is it for a game turned into a movie, book, or board game to see a substantial return or a thriving fanbase?
Will the Tekken movie revive the franchise to its once former Tekken 3 glory? Do fans of the Tekken franchise care past the point of watching a movie, only to laugh at yet another attempt at taking their valuable tournament fee dollars in favor of what could only be a cinematic masterpiece tantamount to Citizen Kane [sorry couldn’t help myself]. I could be wrong. There are the no contests entries like both Street Fighter movies [barring the 90’s anime version]. If anything, these movies of questionable taste create jobs, which is something the world needs currently.
When the games industry tries to tout the shaky fact that ‘this is an experience you can only have with a game’ only for said game to be made into a movie years down the line, what leg does the industry have to stand on? It is understandable for the gaming business, to behave as a business, but it is hard to gauge how many of these media moves are actually smart and are catering to anyone other than an office full of suits. As always, I reserve the right to be wrong at all times.
Aside: Feel free to check out Justin Shin’s article on video games that were turned into movies. The stats he’s gather are pretty revealing.
via The Brog