For those growing up in the latter years of the 20th century, a major motion picture release wasn’t complete without an accompanying game on the computer or console of the moment. It is a tradition that started in the early 80s with the ill-fated Atari interpretation of ET: The Extra Terrestrial, but the fact that the game was a flop did not discourage the developers.
Over the years, there have been hits as well as misses, with games like Alien Isolation, Lord of the Rings and Spiderman II doing an effective job of capturing the tone of the movies. Even Bond has had the gaming treatment, and the 1997 release Goldeneye has gone down in history as a classic, actually going on to make more money than the film on which it was based.
Are film-based games in decline
The late 90s might have been a golden era of games for film buffs, but you could be forgiven for thinking that today, they have gone out of fashion. When Wonder Woman burst back onto the big screen in 2017, there was no high-profile video game to accompany her, something that would have been unthinkable 15 or 20 years earlier. The same applied to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. A Pirates of the Caribbean movie release with no corresponding game? Changing times indeed.
Changing the paradigm
The problem has always been that games and movies are very different media, but become forced to co-exist, and work to each other’s schedules and deadlines. This leads to games being hurried to market, with the inevitable impact on quality. Add to that the licensing headaches, and you can see why film producers are choosing either to steer clear or to leave the movie open to a wider form of interpretation.
Movie based games are still out there
Just because the latest release is no longer accompanied by a cellophane-wrapped game at an eye-watering price, don’t assume there are no longer gaming interpretations of movies. For example, movie related casino games have been around for as long as we have had video slots, and the online age has brought us more choice than ever. Jumanji, Gladiator, The Dark Knight and a whole host of Superman slots are just a few of the titles you will quickly come across if you scour the casino sites.
If gambling is not your speciality, there are other online games based on current movies that have a wonderfully 90s retro feel to them – but without the price tag. Pirates of the Caribbean games are as popular as ever, and the latest one, Tides of War is absolutely free to download and play. The developers make their money through ads and in-app purchases that are by no means mandatory.
Search any new Disney movie and it is the same story. Even cash cows like Frozen have been given the free app treatment, with swiping and jewel matching galore. The truth is, movie-based games are still out there if you know where to look. And often, they don’t cost a penny.