Can Comic Book Games Embrace Changes in Gaming?


When it comes to comic books, certain characters seem to have been created to become video game stars. With that in mind, some video games can truly help to immerse gamers in the comic world they are keen to explore further, but sometimes (we’re looking at you X-Men Destiny) the transition from silver screen to gaming screen just bombs horribly. In fact, the X-Men seem to be a great example of how sometimes this transition goes smoothly, and other times it just flops beyond belief.

Do comic book-based games face a bigger challenge in general though? Well, in more recent times, the world of video games has changed to become ever more based around different styles of play that don’t just rely upon the arcade/single player traditions that have previously been so popular. Furthermore, there has been a marked move away from single player gaming, which is going to cause a sustained challenge for comic book games. After all, players aren’t always going to be desperate to play-off against multiple Batmen in the same game!

A Natural Fit?

Back in 2015, this guide to the future of video gaming made a prediction that eSports and spectator viewing of gaming would become a seriously “big thing”, and this prediction has started to become a serious reality, with eSport viewer numbers expected to reach nearly 300 million by 2020. Since this prediction was made in fact, eSports has earned the right to be discussed as a future Olympic Sport, and is already set to become a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. Indeed, so popular has it become that you can actually bet on events in the same way as other sports, with sites like offering those wishing to place a wager on tournament and match outcomes the chance to do so.

While this might seem like an area of serious competition without much opportunity for comic franchises, it could actually be an area where comic book characters are in their element. With the chance to develop new storylines, have individual characters battle with and against each other in an Avengers (or if they recover from the awful movie, the Justice League) style, there could be an opportunity for new and exciting outcomes. There is also clearly the chance for both eSports and companies like Marvel and DC to work together to help increase the popularity of their separate brands.

Indeed, this sort of trend could be viewed as a way of creating a new, almost cinematic experience for many avid fans, helping to fill gaps in markets, like the absence of any Dredd sequel after the cult following that the Dredd Movie earned.

A Family Affair?

Perhaps the biggest challenge that comics face is the fact that they appeal to very different audience ages and demographics. With comics like Batman having been around since way back in 1939 and Spiderman since 1962, these are comics which clearly have a successful cross-generational appeal, and therefore games put out to market need to reflect this approach.

Indeed, while the Deadpool video game was able to enjoy simply being an R-rated affair due to the unique nature of the character, it is clearly not going to be the case that Marvel (who, lest we forget, are owned by Disney) are going to want to always promote video games that run the risk of isolating some of their key target audiences.

More Than Just First Person Fun

While Batman may have failed to break through the world of online gaming, the future of gaming is also likely to bring more and more interest in virtual reality and other more immersive technology. In this regard, it seems perfectly feasible for the likes of Superman, Spiderman, and many other characters to be used to really give players those superpowers that they always wanted, by letting gamers enjoy them in virtual reality games in an open world environment.

If this type of game can be successfully developed, then comic book-inspired video games may have finally found their niche. Also, more importantly, they can then be further developed to help ensure that fans of their characters are able to continue to enjoy their favorite heroes or villains. Failure, though, to embrace changes in gaming could well see the world of comic books ease its foot off the pedal when it comes to the gaming world for a while, and this would be a huge blow, not just for comic book fans, but gamers of all tastes and preferences as well. Ultimately, there appears to be no reason why comics and gaming can’t embrace each other fully and successfully, despite the changes afoot in the gaming world in early 2018.

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