This New ‘Ghostbusters’ Video Game Is a Major Disappointment
Movies and video games don’t exactly have the most pleasant working relationship. Films based on hit games are usually terrible (seriously, have you ever seen a good movie based on one?), and games based on movies aren’t always stellar, either. An official tie-in video game isn’t really a requirement, but if the film in question is a big budget blockbuster based on a popular existing brand, it presents an opportunity to cross revenue streams for an easy cash-in. Unfortunately, the trailer for the new Ghostbusters video game feels like a perfunctory afterthought — as if Sony suddenly snapped awake one morning and thought, “Oh, right, we should probably do that.”
Too many games based on movies are like that, though. There’s no real care put into making the best possible game to appeal to fans of the property; instead, we get lazily-conceived games that, more often than not, feel like someone checking off a box on a marketing list. Such is the case with the new game based on Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, which has not been promoted at all until now, just three days before the film hits theaters.
Aside from the cheap-y, underwhelming design, the most egregious part of the Ghostbusters game trailer is the absence of any human characters from the film itself. Instead, we get two women and two men, one of whom is incredibly muscular (like, Thor-sized). It’s not representative of Feig’s reboot, or even the traditional film’s cast, which was made up of everyday, unlikely heroes (i.e. not bulky action stars).
You would think that a new Ghostbusters movie would be a much bigger deal. It presents numerous opportunities for Sony to create exciting merchandise and further capitalize on the brand. As a friend of mine pointed out, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was another summer blockbuster with a similar budget (about $160 million) that did not have a video game tie-in. WB scrapped the one they had in development, and according to Newsweek, this resulted in over $100 million in missed revenue. That’s not a small amount of cash.
Sure, one of this year’s biggest films — Captain America: Civil War — didn’t have an official video game, either, though Marvel Heroes did receive a Civil War update to coincide with the film’s release. And you can bet that Marvel and Disney didn’t sub out Ant-Man with a generic, unrecognizable character.
The primary feature of Paul Feig’s reboot is that it stars four women, while the game that’s allegedly based on this film offers two women and two men. I guess that’s an attempt at compromise, but it feels like a sheepish move on Sony’s part. And while I applaud the studio for releasing action figures based on Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy’s characters, there’s something unpleasant about putting out a video game that doesn’t even acknowledge these women — especially when you’re releasing it to a community that’s dominated by men, and one that’s had some highly-publicized issues with misogyny.
Perhaps none of this would be as disappointing if the game actually looked good or if Sony wasn’t charging 50 bucks for something that looks like it’d be worth five dollars in the app store. Although it’s being distributed by a major publisher (Activision), the game was developed by a relatively small company called Fire Forge — which happens to share a name with a UK company that makes miniatures for tabletop gaming, yielding some very confusing Google results.
It’s difficult to nail it down, but Ghostbusters might be Fire Forge‘s only product. You would think that Sony would put more consideration (and money) into choosing a developer for a game based on a major summer blockbuster reboot of a very popular franchise. You would be wrong.
And sure, Sony partnered with toy manufacturers to put out action figures and a handful of toys, and Hi-C re-released Ecto-Cooler (allegedly; I can’t find it anywhere in the real world), but the studio’s blatant indifference toward this Ghostbusters video game tells us how little they care about what this movie is and who it’s for. There have been numerous reports about Sony’s plans for another movie, one with both male and female Ghostbusters; rumors suggest the studio began developing that film because they didn’t have much faith in Feig’s all-female reboot. Those rumors were predictably denied, and I didn’t want to believe them, but if Sony can’t even acknowledge and honor Feig’s cast in a quick and easy video game, then maybe there’s some truth to it after all.