Men in black is one of the most recognizable franchises of the future and
this year is spectacular for the fans of the original trilogy: the forth part
of the movie was released in June. Certainly, it poses the question about
attraction of the license and its importance for producers of video games.
All previous video games released in the world of agents J and K were mediocre. Only the original Men in Black: the Game had some level of quality. Others were so poorly made that it’s almost impossible to play them nowadays. While it’s true that we already passed that period of time when every good movie was accompanied with an average video game, it’s also true that fans still wait for the resurrection of the franchise and expect big developers of video games to produce something valuable near time soon.
So, what are the variants? What to expect in the future? Will we ever see MMO RPG in the world of the agents? Will we ever see a good single player shooter or perhaps an action-oriented game? Let’s look at the history of the development to understand why the chances are low and what will help to gain popularity to Men in Black universe.
Matrix Online as a valid example of how licensed games fail
Matrix Online was one the best MMORPG back in these years. It had decent graphics, very interesting, non-trivial gameplay, unique missions for each side, ability to explore the city and enter almost every significant building. It had very outstanding scheme of creating items when you split and combined different parts of code to create a new item. Perks system motivated to unlock new abilities and to progress in the game even more, community was ok, the game did not have any troublesome technical issues. Yet, it failed and was closed in 2009, four years after its release due to its low popularity. This alone shows how large products become unpopular and lose player’s base when the hype around the franchise calms down.
It’s not a secret for everyone that Matrix back in 2004 – 2005 was more popular than Men in Black now. But even this did not help the franchise to stay on board – the game was abandoned by players and then became inhabited for others who decided to stay.
With Men in Black the risks are the same or even higher – it’s impossible to launch and actively support the product without the influx of money from the new players. If developers want the game to be popular, they need to popularize the franchise first. The idea of creating a game where detectives explore the huge world, arrest or pursue other forms of life or investigate the crimes committed by them looks amazing on the paper, but unless we get something like L.A. Noire in Men in Black setting with MMO RPG elements, it will certainly fail to become a commercially successful product. We don’t have other franchises which would have a stable player base and thus to expect Men in Black to become a profitable product would be naive, silly and presumptuous. Chances that it will stay successful are extremely low.
Other variants simply don’t work. L.A. Noire is the best detective game in the industry, but it was developed for seven years in accordance to different rumors and its development cost was millions of dollars. Due to motion capture technology its production was very labor intensive, long and saturating. Indie developers don’t have that much resources and large corporations don’t have intensions to develop something unique – cliché, proven games are more popular and stable in sales rather than new intellectual property. For a large corporation it’s more profitable to develop a continuation of a popular series rather than give a life to a new product. As a result, we can conclude that AAA-developers have more attractive titles and franchises to develop and small independent developers don’t have money to buy the license to release a Men in Black video game. Due to all this, chances that something like L.A. Noire but in Men in Black setting appears are extremely low and games of other genres simply won’t be as good as fans want them to be. As a result, they inevitably will turn into a failure.