Where are all the Comic Book Video Games?

This year (2017) has been a tremendous year for gaming. We have received arguably one of the best Zelda AND one of the best Mario games of all time, a multitude of new IP’s such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, and a host of fantastic indie games including A Night in The Woods and Cuphead. But after watching Sony’s impressive showing for Paris Games Week on Monday, I was left with a selfish and guilty feeling. Where are all the video games based on comics?

Gamers are getting some comic book video games such as the Insomniac’s new Spider-Man game, Telltale’s The Walking DeadGuardians of The Galaxy, and Batman series, but this list is a far cry from the games I remember playing growing up. Some of my earliest memories in gaming are of playing the admittedly shallow and glitchy top down X-Men: Legends games on PS2 as well as the Spider-Man games on the PS1. These games not only helped hook me into gaming culture but also comic books as well. Lesser known characters such as Psylocke from X-Men and The Scorpion from Spider-Man fascinated me and enticed me to discover several brand new worlds. 

There have been a few really good comic book video games that have come out recently specifically the Batman: Arkham series. Before the Arkham series, it was believed that you simply could not make an amazing Batman game. All previous attempts at doing so were considered failures. But BatmanArkham Asylum crafted a gripping storyline using existing Batman characters while using a combat system that truly made the player feel like a trained superhero. However, there still is room for greater diversity in terms of comic books being translated into video games. I would like to see already existing comic book storylines to be made into video games. 

Are we finished with the Batman games?

Are we finished with the Batman games?

There is a precedence for this, just look at the movie industry. Right now, you could even argue that there are too many movies based off comic books coming out right now with annual marquee big-budget summer releases. It seems semi-annually Marvel Studios puts out a new movie tying it to it’s overarching MCU. One of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory is the new Justice League film coming out in November. All of these movies are based on existing comic book storylines that are simply adapted to better suit the big screen. I believe video games could do something similar, taking an existing comic book storyline and adapting it’s key story beats and characters into an AAA game. 

One comic I would personally love to see is Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run adapted for a third person action game. I think it would even be possible to make the ever elusive great Superman game using this method. The main obstacle to any Superman game has always been making the character not overpowered, well adapt a comic series in which Superman is underpowered and beaten, namely The Death of Superman run by Dan Jurgens. 

I understand in this age of licensing agreements and the rising costs of producing video games, that it is a risk to adapt an already existing beloved storyline.  It seems that there is a swath of outcry from fans claiming the film makers messed up the lore, with every new Marvel film. However, I believe there are several already existing comic book storylines that would simply be perfect for video games and could introduce more gamers into the wide open world of comic books.