Warner Brothers Foresees End of Shoddy Superhero Games

Marshall Honorof

New member
Feb 16, 2011
Warner Brothers Foresees End of Shoddy Superhero Games

A new Warner Brothers studio promises more DC superhero games like Arkham Asylum and fewer like, well, most other superhero games.

While there have been a few exceptions [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/9194-Batman-Arkham-City-Review], it's really hard to make a good superhero game. Think about it: In any given superhero story, how many characters are actually stronger than the protagonist? Superman could snap Lex Luthor like a twig; Batman could beat the Joker into a pulp. Remove the characters' moral restraints and put them into an interactive, combat-based setting, and an archetypal battle of good vs. evil becomes a massacre. In spite of these challenges, new studio Warner Brothers Montreal believes that the time of the rushed, buggy superhero games is drawing to a close. The studio, which is working on various DC Comics properties, hopes to make more games in the style of Arkham Asylum by tapping into a rich superhero mythology instead of a movie release date.

Warner Bros. Montreal came into existence recently with a "mandate" straight from the film studio itself to make good games. While a Looney Tunes game is not out of the question, the main focus for now is on the Warner Bros. DC Comics license. Martin Carrier and Reid Schneider, the studio's vice president and executive producer, respectively, believe that Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum raised the bar for what is now acceptable in a superhero game. "They changed people's perceptions and that's why we're not satisfied anymore with sub-par superhero games," says Carrier.

Schneider agrees, citing Spider-Man for the PS1 as another example of a superhero game that succeeded by crafting a brand new story that respects the source material without adapting a specific comic book or movie story. "It's not about hitting the movie date or some arbitrary date-it was giving the game the time it needs to be successful and really just concentrating on the quality of it," he says.

Much like Blade or X-Men made the superhero film a legitimate genre, Schneider believes that Arkham Asylum did the same thing for superhero games. According to Schneider, it's no longer acceptable to simply put out a bad - or even mediocre [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/8869-Thor-God-of-Thunder-Review] - movie tie-in game. "Those days where publishers could do stuff like that and make money from it, it's just not the same ... [Only] the really high-quality games with mass market appeal are making money. That whole middle layer, where there were movie games or cash-ins-that market is gone."

While it's true that movie tie-in games rarely make the same kind of money as a Gears of War or an Uncharted, they also cost much less and have much shorter development cycles. Superhero movie games don't have to be big hits, or even very good, in order to be profitable. However, with DC's biggest properties in the hands of a studio using Arkham Asylum as a template, there's a very real chance for a superhero games to shine. Ten years ago, superhero movies went from being schlocky disasters to one of the most popular genres in the medium. Ten years from now, will the same be true of superhero games?

Source: Canadian Business [http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blog/tech/60323--warner-bros-montreal-has-super-aspirations]



The Last Albino
Aug 30, 2010
I could start to like this.

Personally, I could use another 'Captain America & The Avenger' kind of a game for PSN/XBL.
Feb 13, 2008
Although I'd love to think "YAY!", there's a firm pedigree why it's a "NOoooooooooo".

Superhero games have been running since Redhawk and the Marvel Adventure series, but the few times they've been really good is things like Batman on the Speccy.

Most of the time, the character is so restricted, and "re-imagined", that it just seems like a cheap tie-in.

City of Heroes/Villains is still head and shoulders over most superhero games, and Arkham Asylum captures something that Arkham City loses. Looking back at AVGN, there are a stream of sub-par superhero titles, and less than a handful of good ones.

What they really need is a good writer and a freedom to write to that character - and we've already seen what can go horribly wrong with the Wonder Woman TV Series, and the Spiderman Musical.

What it NEEDS is creative freedom, and writers who know and love the characters - that's not something we've seen much of lately - just deadlines, layoffs and fan-service.

Asylum, CoX and Spiderman 1 all worked by having a good mechanic, good voice work, excellent scripting, treating them like "real" people, and most importantly are a blast to play. If they've only just realised how to re-do that with Sonic, then my hopes aren't high.


New member
Apr 27, 2010
if they really are planning on making better games the first step is finding a dc hero other than batman they can make a game about. green lantern would be fun but since he can make his ring do whatever he wants its going to feel like the player has no control over what he makes. flash is kinda out too cause a game where you can run faster than the speed of light would make for a short game. as weird as it sounds i think they should go with a teen titans game. every hero can have their own gameplay an missions and way to get around the city. plus that means more nightwing and im all for that


New member
Jul 14, 2010
Well this could be good since licensed games mainly focus on making a quick game to make a quick buck. If the focus is to make a good game then this could be good. Guess we can just hope WB doesn't rush them.

Tiger Sora

New member
Aug 23, 2008
Some good news for everyone I guess. I don't play these types of games. But anywhere in the industry where the standard is raised is a good one.

Now only if game developers will stop making the video games in 6 months based off movies. The world would be a better place. One step at a time though eh?

Moonlight Butterfly

Be the Leaf
Mar 16, 2011
I hope they are really thinking of making more quality superhero games. I was really excited when they said they might be working on a Superman one next.

"That whole middle layer, where there were movie games or cash-ins-that market is gone." This point of view is cool, with the new DC story lines being released it could be a real opportunity to both make some really fun quality games and boost comic book popularity.

Funnily enough I was thinking about how awesome a Wonder Woman game might be. They have the whole of Greek mythology to use and, as we all know, that's something that hasn't really been tapped by games designers outside of God of War. It has some really kick ass, vastly horrific monsters and some powerful and not so benevolent characters.

A more positive view on the superhero gaming genre and at last someone realising they have potential outside poor movie tie-ins is just really exciting.


New member
Nov 15, 2011
If I were to believe such a claim, it wouldn't come from Warner Bros., first of all. Using Arkham Asylum as an example, the one superlative licensed superhero game we've seen since a few entire generations ago, doesn't really fill me with excitement for the direction such games are going as a whole. Citing a PS1 game as an example of that claim, particularly when nearly every game from the brand in the nearly fifteen years since the game cited has been garbage, including the one that came out this year, isn't the best way to back up that claim, either.

Granted, Captain America wasn't horrible, for example, but it wasn't good, either. And not even X-Men can put out a good game lately; they at least did that in a few instances before this console generation.


New member
Sep 6, 2009
There will still be shoddy hero games made, the article itself admits that they are cheaper and don't need to sell much to make back what was spent on them.

If they stopped the crappy movie tie-ins, the overall quality would be much higher.

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

I never asked for this
Sep 8, 2011
I would love a free-roaming Spider-man game made by those guys. I know they will probably focus more on DC, but Marvel has more material IMO.

Sixties Spidey

Elite Member
Jan 24, 2008
Shouldn't Warner Brothers promise not to make a shitty superhero movie again? Let's start with Green Lantern, hm?


New member
Oct 21, 2008
So, you'd like to make a good superhero game, and you'd like to keep it in the DC Universe. Batman's doing alright, no need to expand things any more just yet. Wonder Woman could be a God of War clone with a female lead, but that's worked about as often as a Superman game. Green Lantern? Movie tie-in. Martian Manhunter? Dr. Manhattan's lack of charisma, but without the gratuitous nudity. Aquaman? Pffft.

I'd say that Green Arrow could create some interesting third person shooter gameplay, especially if you played up the stealth elements.

That's if you're looking for a full-on $60 game. I'm thinking as a downloadable title, a villain-centric tower defense game, where you build up hordes of henchmen to keep out waves of police followed by one or two epic hero characters. And if said heroes break through your defenses, instead of losing you trigger an escape sequence minigame, culminating in you riding off into the sunset in your themed vehicle of choice.

Kenbo Slice

Deep In The Willow
Jun 7, 2010
Sgt. Sykes said:
Okay I'm not totally against superheroes, but Batman is such a stupid concept it made the Arkham game (only played the first) retarded. But okay; if they can make a solid, say, an X-Men game, okay then. Batman? No.
Okay...explain to me how Batman is stupid? Please...I really want to know.

OT: More good superhero games would be awesome, as someone said above me a Green Arrow game would be really cool if done right.

Paladin Anderson

New member
Nov 21, 2011
The_root_of_all_evil said:
City of Heroes/Villains is still head and shoulders over most superhero games
Even City of Heroes had it's major draw backs and problems. I should know, it consumed four years of my life.

Mostly it failed completely to capture any feeling of "super" or "evil" for heroes and villains. When playing a villain you ran around doing errands for other villains. You never did anything to advance your own character's goals. You were a lackey. A thug with delusions of grandeur.

Same thing for hero side. You had to dog pile, 8 on 1, against the game's biggest names. Sure it was to make team work imperative but, again, you feel like a lackey, an errand boy, a second rate side kick. A background character to the story of the game's big heroes.

Some story arcs were great, particularly most of the new ones, but most of them were as described. Running errands and trying not to get stepped on by the game's real heroes and villains.

DC Online did a MUCH better job of pitting you one on one against the story heroes and villains and making you feel like a somebody. Didn't care much for the rest of the game, but it at least made you feel like a contender.

COH's good points spoiled me a lot though. After playing CoH which made finding or forming a team fast, fun, and lucrative, I can't step into an MMO that gives no incentive to team and makes forming or joining a team boring or difficult. That rules out a great number of MMOs


New member
Nov 12, 2011
Martin Carrier and Reid Schneider, the studio's vice president and executive producer, respectively, believe that Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum raised the bar for what is now acceptable in a superhero game. "They changed people's perceptions and that's why we're not satisfied anymore with sub-par superhero games," says Carrier.
I don't feel the bar was raised here as a gamer. All Rocksteady did was make the kind of great game we have been asking for years, but I can certainly see how it was for a developer. They had the bar set so low for years now Rocksteady walked in and tripped over the bloody thing. It feels as if Warner Bros. Montreal sat down and played the Arkham games like one suffering from DSH meets with a psychiatrist and Montreal walked away from the experience saying, "We shouldn't be making crap games anymore", and Arkham said, "I think we?ve made excellent progress today".