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Thread: The Problem with Adaptations

  1. #1
    Wildökarudo Mercen-X's Avatar
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    Default The Problem with Adaptations

    That which I most have notice about games based on books, comics, cartoons, anime, and movies (particularly Disney), is that typically the developers demonstrate very little faith in the appeal of the end product thus avoid spending too much of their resources on fleshing out what consumers would consider to be a full game experience.

    Kingdom Hearts aside, generally all videogame adaptations of other properties are expected mostly to be novelties pandering to fans while offering very little in the way of length, substance, narrative, or immersion. When I play a game based on Incredibles or Monsters Inc or Frozen, I want to really feel like I'm in that world, not just tagging along on an otherwise unrecognized extraneous sidestory or rehash of the known narrative. If I'm gonna invest in an interactive romp through a recreation of the world of 300 or Triple X, I want to experience that world, not some half-hearted half-baked moneygrab.

    It's a sad cycle like obesity and depression and comfort food: developers feel these games won't make much money; after all, the appeal of such a novelty barely applies to the target fanbase, but therein lies the problem. As earlier mentioned, Kingdom Hearts has been able to adapt multiple properties, but it isn't the Disney fans that bring in the money. Games need to appeal to fans of a specific GAME genre. Then after every aspect of the pursued genre should be put in attempt to make this the best game in that genre if not overall.

    Personally, I tend to lean more heavily toward these higher loftier expectations for games, particularly if I'm being led to believe it is in the world of a place I'm already vaguely familiar with. I'd like an in-depth romp through a place like the Norse isles of How To Train Your Dragon or a globe-trotting adventure with Jack Frost and the Guardians. But chances are more likely to be stuck just under an hour of relevant gameplay in a slapped together narrative based loosely on the source material a la Rise of the Underminer.

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  2. #2
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say the developers don't put heart into these games cause they do poorly, more like they know they don't have to put much effort into them because they know they will sell incredibly well regardless.

    For the most part, this topic is a bit broad and there are several factors to consider when trying to find the root issues. For Disney games particularly, I blame part of the issue on their own gaming division being rather poor in quality. It's not really that important to them since the licensing of the IP can translate to money from any where and game development is a lot of effort with little reward in the grand business scheme of other children's stuff. It's the reason why the best license games tend to be ones that are outsourced to real gaming companies. Kingdom Hearts and the Capcom era of Disney games are quite the stand-outs, as are the Konami arcade license titles. Nowadays the best license titles are usually fighting games based on popular anime series or mobile titles where they strap the license onto a popular game like Sailor Drops being a Candy Crush clone with Sailor Moon attached to it.

    Companies could do more with the licenses, but the sad truth is that games are the least cost-effective application of merchandising since it requires real effort to make them good, and the target audience is less likely to be as engaged with a well thought out game over a pre-existing game with wearing the mask of the IP. The only place where this isn't the case lately has been major IPs with broad appeal like comic books and Star Wars, where the IPs are handed over to major companies to make strong video game franchises and even then they'll stick you with DLC and loot box nonsense like MvsC: Infinite and Star Wars Battlefront.

    So yeah, any IP whose target audience are under ten, will likely never see a decent video game adaption of the IP since the bar for satisfaction by the target audience is too low for the developers to care, while IPs that can extend to older audiences have their own issues. Like film adaptions, the real issue here is that adaptions are created for broad appeal, not to appeal to the core fan base. The fans will likely check it out regardless so no sense in appealing to them too much, so the goal is simply to get the casuals interested enough to invest in becoming a fan, so ultimately, core fans will always get a watered down experience cause they're not as important as a demographic since they are already considered a "sure thing".

  3. #3
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    The good thing about mobile gaming is that it removed all the cheap tie-ins and adaptations from the console/PC marketplace. Cheap and quickly made games to be released alongside a movie are now on mobile devices along with all the other shovelware in the apple/android stores.

    So now when you see an adaptation being made for consoles or PC, at least you'll know they put some effort in it (see for example the new Spider-Man game).

    Also, I've always had the feeling the time restriction of having to be released alongside the movie has a big impact on the development cycle. I don't know how long before the movie release a developer tends to be contacted, but I doubt it's long enough to make a deep or unique game, so instead they have to stick with a quick and simple development process. For this reason I can't judge the developers of the games, maybe they'd really like to make a good, unique game, but they just don't get the time necessary for it.

    (Shout-out to one of the few games that didn't suffer from being released alongside the movie: Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Moreso because unlike "those old Disney games", this was in the 3D era)

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