The gaming industry is hugely popular, with around 2 billion gamers in 2015, a number that is expected to increase by more than 50% by 2023 to over 3 billion, almost half of the world’s population. With such a large player base and all kinds of players, developers have to work hard to create content that attracts and engages players. It has been said that more is spent on games each year than movies and music combined.
One of the ways they do this is by tying the games they offer to elements that are already present in popular culture and having a ready-made fan base. This way they can target gamers, who will play the game for the mechanics and gameplay, as well as those who are drawn to the theme and less concerned with the game itself.
A common theme in this area is film; an all-encompassing genre that has something for everyone, from comedy movies to horrors, thrillers to comedies, everything in between, as well as cult classics. The popularity of the movies has even spread to the world of online casinos, providing hours of entertainment for a range of players. Players can log in and find everything, including movie-themed slots and the ability to play bingo with JackpotJoy.
Console cinema games: a decline in popularity
Even the most mediocre adaptations generate a lot of interest and are cult among gamers. Most Hollywood blockbuster-related games had their heyday in the early 2000s, with nearly every major blockbuster being accompanied by a video game with the same name and a recognizable logo; in the 2010s they were practically non-existent. These games needed to be created quickly, with no time for final product polishing stages, and developers had little or no creative freedom in the content they delivered to consumers. That meant quickly developed games that, frankly, were pretty mediocre. So why were they popular?
- Call of big names
- Link to their favorite movie
- Lack of other options on the market
In the early 2020s, developers slowly but surely pulled out of that market and started focusing on building their own franchises, like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. The growth in connectivity and technology meant that gamers were now more aware of these new “gaming-themed” games, which were also getting considerably better, and no longer buying the movie-themed games whose quality had declined over the years. .
The one notable exception to this is the Lego link in games that have popped up over the years, spanning everything from the Simpsons movie to Harry Potter. However, these films rarely follow the same timelines as the films themselves.
Cinema-Themed Mobile Games: A New Era
However, ever-changing technology has created a new market for movie-themed games: mobile and social games. The type of games created for this market tend to have smaller budgets and shorter lead times, which matches the demands of timely release of movie-themed games. The nature of these types of games also means that content can be continually added to the game throughout, updating gameplay as sequels and fixing bugs or glitches.
The online nature of social games also better matches what gamers are looking for; they want to play online and be social when they play. The original movie-themed games were, by their nature, solitaire. When telling a story, the opportunities for cooperation or competitive play with others were limited.
These games tend to use the movie they’re based on as a loose theme, i.e. characters and setting, with a few nods to history, and less of a blow-by-blow narrative of the original movie. That means there’s a lot more creative freedom to develop games quickly and easily, with curbside appeal.
There are literally hundreds of existing puzzle games on the App Store that involve matching jewels and hitting targets. The Frozen game developers were able to simply add their movie skin to an existing game, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of development on a plot-driven game. disney even created their own version of the endless 8-bit arcade hopper Crossy Road, aptly named Disney Crossy Road.
And then ?
The power of games has not gone unnoticed in the industry, and there has been a major shift recently, with numerous video game-themed movies being made. This approach taps into a similar market: moviegoers who will see the film and gamers eager to see their favorite games come to life.
Some of the most popular games of recent years include Ratchet & Clank, Angry Birds, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Detective Pikachu. These films successfully captured the most important aspects of gaming, but sometimes took artistic license to convey their message and create an engaging story. There are many others (Battleship, Super Mario Bros and Alone in the Dark to name a few) that have failed to achieve this.
There’s no denying that movies and games go hand in hand, providing different forms of entertainment and appealing to different demographics. The developers have taken advantage of new technologies and changing gaming habits to ensure that the crossovers created remain fresh and relevant to today’s market.