Since the birth of Tim Burton’s movie Batman in 1989, there has been a video game tie-in with every incarnation of the Batman film franchise. So why is it that we haven’t seen one for one of the most popular (and profitable) films for the character, if not for comic book films in general? It’s not as if there wasn’t a plan for a digitized Batman during the film’s production. Game publisher Electronic Arts had the rights to make a game for the Dark Knight film, according to an unnamed developer for the EA-owned Pandemic Studios. Speculation says that the lack of a game caused up to $100 million in missing sales, and would be the first time that the caped crusader didn’t have a game.
Speculation ranges from missing deadlines to Heath Ledger’s death, and even to the fear of success due to the poor quality of the last tie-in game with Batman Begins. Sales of movie-based games often parallel their box-office brethren. Last year’s Transformers games sold 2.6 million copies while the Spider-Man III games sold 2.1 million, according to sales data from NPD Group market research analyst Anita Frazier. Even the Iron Man games have sold 697,000 units following their release at the same time as the film in May.
If a Dark Knight game is still in the works, Batman could take a cue from Superman. Because of delays, the EA console games based on 2006’s Superman Returns didn’t take flight until the DVD release — and only then sold 705,000 copies. However, a Dark Knight game isn’t on EA’s release slate through March 2009, according an EA press release.
This is all not to say that there will be a shortage of Batman and his foes in the world of video games. You can catch them all on your console in September for Warner’s Lego Batman: The Video Game, then in November for Midway’s Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, and finally later this year for Sony’s DC Universe Online.