In this week's Monday Musing I thought it was time to have a think about tie-in games. Or, more specifically, games that have a massive license attached them.
Now, if you grew up when I did (the past), then you'll know that movie tie-in games used to be appalling. I mean, seriously, movie tie-in game was a byword for terrible. These were cheap cash-ins designed to ride on the hype of a blockbuster.
And to be honest, some of that still shines through nowadays. There's a mobile game tie-in for Ben Affleck's latest film. Which is a gangster epic. And not exactly the sort of thing that you'd expect to have a mobile game tie-in.
But things have definitely got better. Star Wars: Force Arena might not be a direct tie-in, but neither was Masters of the Teras Kasi and that was literally one of the worst games ever made.
Look at the Marvel games on the App Store, the DC games, the games based on some of the most famous and influential pop culture universes out there. They're not all awful. In fact, whisper it, some of them are actually pretty good.
Why has this happened? Well, in one way there's a lot less pressure when you're building a mobile game. They're still massive productions, but nowhere near the size of a AAA console product.
And on top of that, as I sometimes bang on about, there's more scope for innovation on mobile. Sure, make a shooting game, but it doesn't have to be a generic FPS with the faces replaced by some famous Hollywood actors.
The things that a lot of gamers complain about in mobile make it ripe for using as a marketing ploy for a movie. There's no barrier for entry – you're not going into a game shop and pawing through all the other releases to pick a movie game – instead you're straight in on your phone.
So sure, you could say that we're likely to see the rise of games as adverts, mainly thanks to the things we carry around in our pocket. But if the games are good, is it so awful that they're advertising something?
Film and tie-in games are an intriguing sub genre. Maybe one day I'll write a full thesis on why they continue to exist. Probably not though, because that sounds like an awful lot of effort, and I really hate effort.