Over the years, we’ve seen loads of great movies, television shows, comic books, and other forms of visual entertainment. Why is it, then, that when most of these properties are made into video games, the end result is mediocre at best, and appallingly bad at worst?
I think it can be boiled down to a few factors. One is speed; often, when a movie is announced, the games need to be developed for all platforms in a hurry. The story’s already written, sure, but the game engine, graphics, and some semblance of gameplay needs to be whipped up very quickly. That doesn’t leave much time for refinement.
Another problem is the fact that most of these films, comics, etc., really don’t lend themselves well to the video game format without being generic. Look at it this way; you’ve got films based on X-Men, Batman, Fantastic Four, Blade, and so on. All of those films are superhero action flicks. Which means every single game will be a generic action game with differing characters thrown in. There’s very little room for original gameplay elements.
All of these things combine to make a mess of a game. Of course, there are notable exceptions; the Spider-Man games for the original Playstation come to mind. By and large, though, licensed games seem doomed to dwell in mediocrity forever.