Rocksteady Studios is an amazing game development house, that can’t be denied by anyone. With only three games to their name (and a fourth on the way!) I have yet to play a game produced by them that I didn’t enjoy. Even their first effort, Urban Chaos: Riot Response, was a pretty great debut effort, with its S.W.A.T theme helping to differentiate it from sci-fi and World War II first-person shooters that heavily dominated the genre in the mid-2000’s.
Of course the studio didn’t make a name for themselves from Urban Chaos. What the world over knows the developer for is the Batman “Arkham” series, the games that showed just how spectacular Batman, and comic book inspired games, could be with the right amount of care and attention. Right now the folks at Rocksteady are hard at work crafting the final chapter, and presumably their final outing with the character with Batman: Arkham Knight.
Whenever I view the comments for a comic book related game, specifically one featuring a super hero, a frustrating comment that I see come up is “Rocksteady should make this game” or “they should get Rocksteady to make a game featuring (blank) character.” This attitude is unrealistic for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Marvel fans can stop dreaming of the day when they’ll turn their attention towards Captain America, Iron Man or Spider-Man. Rocksteady is in business with WB Games, the same WB that owns DC Comics. Disney would have to pony up a lot of money to WB Games in order to get them to start pumping out Marvel games, that or to offer their talent incentive to come and make games for them with a new start-up studio.
Secondly, just because they found great success with the Batman character doesn’t mean that easily translates other to other properties in DC’s stable. Take Superman for example, the character can fly, is in vulnerable, and has a wide range of other powers, or Green Lantern who can fly and create a series of hard light constructs. Both characters present an entirely new series of challenges and mechanics to make them compelling video game characters to play as. Batman has had the ability to glide since Batman: Arkham City, but that’s something quite different mechanically speaking from flying at super sonic speeds as the Man of Steel. It’s taken three games for Rocksteady to implement a Batmobile, how much longer would it take for them to work out the kinks for the likes of Superman, Green Lantern or The Flash?
Finally we simply can’t expect Rocksteady to ONLY make comic book games, even though myself and a lot of people would really like it if they did, including WB Games I’m assuming. Presumably they’re tying up the “Arkham” franchise such that they can move on to other projects, though I guess it can be speculated that maybe they’ll reboot the Batman franchise, or maybe even something bigger like the Justice League. Either way we can’t force them to make games they aren’t passionate about, that would make them no better than companies who have shoved license garbage onto store shelves to cash in on a name.
Ultimately Rocksteady needs to exist as the Batman character does: they provide hope to video game fans that we don’t need to be afraid of license games any longer. That if people support well designed games like the “Arkham” series they don’t have to play another Thor: God of Thunder. Rocksteady is only one studio though, and they can’t be pressured with being the solution to every bad comic based video game, nor to show everyone else why Superman has yet to have a hit game.