Thursday, July 23, 2009

game companies making films

This is a very interesting article. Apparently, some game publishers are considering making their own feature-length films, rather than outsource that work to Hollywood.

I've hoped Blizzard would make full animated films for the theaters ever since I first saw the Diablo II cinematics, and later the World of Warcraft cinematics (I never played StarCraft). In those cases, a game company doing movies makes sense, because the films would be a natural extension of what Blizzard already does for their games.

On the other side, there are games like Bioshock and Modern Warfare. Great films could made of those, but I'd expect live action and not animation. Ubisoft and Activision would have to create wholly new subsidiaries to make those films.

If the merger of games and films within one company became common, I would worry that we'd see more film-based games rushed to market. I've written before about such games. They're great when they only use the film's basic setting and are not held to a matching release date. The popularity of Ghostbusters, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and LOTR and Star Wars games demonstrate how little timing matters when making quality games of great IPs.

On the other hand, I think films based on game IPs could succeed in the same way. In most cases, I'd like to see the films use only the settings and characters of games, rather than the plots. Great films could made of Halo and Destroy All Humans! if new plots were devised. Bioshock, Neverwinter Nights, and Deus Ex are possible exceptions (I would follow the game plots).

If any company should be trying to make films, it's Bioware. Their reputation is primarily as storytellers already, and they rely heavily on cutscenes in their games. Bioware and Blizzard are best set to lead game publishers and developers into film-making, if that's where the industry's headed.

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