Some years ago the Brisbane wing of software developer Pandemic began working on a Batman videogame to be published by EA. It was some months into development that they were instructed it had to be revised and that it now had to be based upon the then-upcoming The Dark Knight movie. There were minor restrictions attached to this – adherence to the style and, to some extent at least, the narrative of the feature film; and also a major limitation – they would have to have it ready for the film’s launch
You probably noticed you don’t have a Dark Knight game in your collection. After the break, I’ll tell you some of the reasons why.
A full autopsy into the collapse of the game’s development has been published by an Autralian gaming site, being more local to the Brisbane team in question. The article offers up plenty of juicy details and fully divulged scandal, but here are the key bullet points:
- They decided to skip the cinema launch and coincide with the DVD, but EA’s rights to the Batman license also had a time limit, and a short one: just 18 months.
- The game engine selected wasn’t appropriate for Gotham City style free-roaming environs.
- The management prioritsed graphical excellence, but this crippled the game. It would often crash within minutes and only managed 5 frames per second.
- No level design facilities were available to the team until the project had been in development for six months.
- EA’s management structure made the easiest move in situations like this to just cut the developer free.
The whole article is fascinating stuff, and most definitely worth a read even if, like me, you didn’t much care for the movie at all. This is a study in bad project management, and a sad one too – not to mention one that cost EA many millions in lost sales. I’m slightly scared to think how many Dark Knight games they could have shifted.
After the Dark Knight retrogame post of a few days ago and now this, I’m curious as to high the interest in a good Batman videogame runs. Tell me in the comments.