The Return of Movie Tie-In Games

Back in the early days of video games, tie-in games were a common thing. If a big blockbuster film was coming, it would almost always have a game connected to it. Unfortunately, these games would often be of lackluster quality.

Which is putting it lightly.

The king of them all is, of course, E.T. for the Atari 2600. This legendary game is so bad, so unabashedly awful, that most of the copies were taken to a desert and buried in a hole! It embodied all the problems that licensed games perfectly! It was nonsensical, rushed, hardly tied into the film at all,  and caused no end of suffering to play.

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Not all of these games were as bad as E.T. though. Both the Aladdin and Lion King tie-in games are considered to be very solid and fun platformers, even to this day! Goldeneye 007 is still one of the most beloved FPS games of all time (even if it’s aged about as well as a dead cat in the hot sun)! Before Spider-Man on PS4 came out, every game starring the iconic web-slinger was judged entirely in comparison to the Spider-Man 2 game! So it wasn’t like these games were all garbage!

But they were dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the shitty ones.

For years, these games expanded the roster of video game consoles to an insane degree! If a movie was successful, the chances of a video game tie-in were certain. It didn’t matter if it was a hardcore action movie or a children’s animated show. You’d be lucky if you could go to a game store and not see one of these!


However, in recent years, the quantity of these tie-ins started dropping dramatically. They were still there, of course. It’s unlikely that games like these will ever go away. But none of them were given much time or attention; they just sort of came out, flew under the radar, then disappeared.

That must be the end, right? Movie tie-in games will continue, but the days of having to dig through the junk pile of tie-ins are over! Well… not quite.


For a while, the big movie tie-ins transformed. Often times, iconic movie characters would be put into an already established franchise as DLC or bonus characters. The biggest example of this is the Mortal Kombat DLC characters, which include the Xenomorph, Predator, and soon enough: the Terminator.

This was an unexpected change, but it was widely accepted! I mean, come on! Who doesn’t want to beat up Scorpion as the Xenomorph?! Who wouldn’t want to race Sonic the Hedgehog as Wreck-It Ralph?! That sounds awesome!

But it doesn’t end there either, oh no no no! Now, the days of low-budged movie tie-in games are beginning to make a come back. Particularly in regards to classic, beloved movies from the 80s and 90s.

The first big one that comes to mind is Alien: Isolation from a few years back. Sure, we had to deal with the god awful Colonial Marines before it. But Isolation was a fantastic horror game, perfectly utilizing the property to make a terrifying, engaging and fun experience! It wasn’t the best horror game ever made, but it was damn good!

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Then there’s the Friday the 13th multiplayer game. It got a decent amount of attention shortly after launch. Unfortunately, the game’s lackluster performance and repetitive gameplay (as well as the presence of the much more varied Dead By Daylight, which includes a much larger number of iconic horror characters) quickly reduced the total number of players to a super low level.

Friday the 13th’s 4 VS 1 multiplayer style would be continued by the upcoming Predator game. Now, to be fair: the game isn’t out yet, so I can’t judge the quality of the product as a whole. But from what I’ve seen of the game so far, I can’t say I’m all that impressed. Still, I’ll give it a fair shot when it comes.

I can apply that same sentiment to the upcoming Terminator game, which was announced a short while ago. The trailer looks decent, but not very impressive. This one is the closest to a true tie-in out of the previously mentioned games, as a new Terminator movie is right around the corner.

I figured the Mortal Kombat and Gears of War DLC would have been enough, but sure! Just crank out a whole game, announce it in September and release it in December! That can’t possibly go wrong!

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As it stands, the fate of games like these is still up in the air. If the upcoming Predator and Terminator games prove successful, then maybe we’ll start seeing more movie tie-in games like the old days. Maybe, if they fail, they’ll go back to being only DLC or small games that fly under the radar. Who knows how it will go?

With that said: I wouldn’t get misty-eyed to see them go. But maybe that’s just me.

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