Hollywood's Bad Influence

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Electronic Arts
GameCore is CBSNews.com's gaming column written by William Vitka.

The Don is not happy.

At least, he might not be. And I, for one, would fear the Don.

Looking at what games have become movies, and vice versa, is like reading a list of bad ideas.

Make it stop.

GameSpot Senior Editor Jeff Gerstmann shares his woes and warnings with GameCore.

Jeff: It's been interesting, because over the years the formula has classically been to take an existing current movie and turn that into a game. Whether or not it's part of a marketing push is kind of up for interpretation I guess, but it's all about trying to catch something's hot, current popularity.

The crazy thing is, like, this year there are a lot of companies digging back into older movies. So EA's making their "From Russia With Love" game and then they're also working on "The Godfather." You have Vivendi working on a "Scarface" game. You've got games based on "Jaws" out there, Rockstar's working on a game based off "The Warriors."

Movies that are twenty years older or more are now being brought back and it just begs the question: Is the current audience for games open to that sort of thing? Do they even care about "The Godfather?"

William: So do you think it has to do with a kitsch thing? What's old is new again? Or do you think it has more to do with their being out of ideas?

Jeff: I definitely think they are kind of going for the retro thing. But on top of that, it's probably a weaker than usual movie release calendar this year. Maybe that didn't really lead to a lot of movies that would make sense as games.

Ultimately, I don't really know what's driving it. I definitely don't see a whole lot of interest there from people because they're really walking a fine line. You have people that are big fans of the film who might not be big fans of the game. They're more likely to look at this stuff more closely going, 'well, they're ruining this story that I'm incredibly nostalgic for.' And then on the other side you have current game players, many of which are going to end up being in the younger set, that might not have ever even seen "The Godfather" or care about it. So it really doesn't seem like a situation that's leading to a winning conclusion right now.

William: The games that are based, or have been based, on current movies or based on movies in general -- how well do these games sell?

Jeff: You know, they do all right from time to time. It kind of depends on a number of different factors. The main driving problem with games based on movies is that most of them really aren't very good.

Typically, it's a licensed product so the developer of the game is kind of forced to pitch and hold whatever they want to work on into this framework. It's like, Batman can't fly, Batman can't do this. You know, they have to stick close to that. They're limited by the limitations of the license. And then on top of that there have been situations where companies have spent so much money on a license that they don't have enough money left to properly develop the game.

So you end up with games being done on tight budgets and very tight deadlines because stuff has to be out on the date with the movie and all that.