Movie tie-in titles were once a big cash cow in the gaming market. They provided a way to capitalize on an established property and practically guarantee a profit. Plus, on the off chance that they were of decent quality, then players could relive their favorite films in interactive form. Not all of these products made it to store shelves, though.
Several movie-based games met cancellation at various developmental stages. Many of these tie into hot properties and boasted some intriguing gameplay ideas, so they should have made their money back easily. This makes their demise all the more perplexing.
7 Indiana Jones
Everyone’s favorite adventuring archaeologist saw a resurgence in the late 2000s. Not only was he getting a new movie in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but he was also embarking on another video game journey on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The footage looked promising, thanks in no small part to the physics engine used in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Ultimately, though, Indiana Jones met the same fate as that unfinished trilogy.
The game saw numerous delays. Much of these stemmed from internal struggles. Finally, the game was canceled in 2009. Now, it’s just a curious piece of gaming history. To add insult to injury, it didn’t even get a spot in the museum.
6 Star Wars 1313
The Star Wars saga has seen no shortage of canceled titles, but the one that hurts the most for many fans is 1313. Here, players take the role of a bounty hunter in the Coruscant criminal underworld, running and gunning their way through a slew of cinematic set pieces. This caused onlookers to label it, “Uncharted in Space,” which is no bad thing.
Well, Disney seemed to think it was. After acquiring the Star Wars license and handing off the game rights to EA, the House of Mouse started with a clean slate. As such, most projects in development met untimely ends. That’s the way it went for 1313.
5 The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film is among the most successful blockbusters ever. Of course, any studio would want a tie-in game to further capitalize on that success, and EA sought to do just that with The Dark Knight.
To do this, they recruited Pandemic Studios: the folks behind large-scale war games like Star Wars: Battlefront and The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. They aimed to translate that scale to an open-world action-stealth title here. Players would freely explore Gotham City and combat its criminal element with Batman’s high-tech arsenal and shadowy tactics. Sadly, shifting direction mid-development and failing to meet deadlines caused EA to cancel the game. On the upside, fans later saw the same concept and systems in Rocksteady’s Arkham series.
4 Pirates Of The Caribbean: Armada Of The Damned
The Pirates of the Caribbean films showed that there was a market for seafaring scallywags. Fans had seen several titles based on those movies, but developer Propaganda Games saw the potential to expand beyond the exploits of Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s a big ocean, after all.
The designers aimed to take advantage of that with an open-world RPG. Players could sail the mystical Caribbean waters with their own ship and crew, alternating between land and naval combat. Unfortunately, Disney’s restructuring led to the ambitious project’s cancellation, but elements of it still popped up in subsequent releases. The musical score created for the game was used in LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean, and players got their free-roaming plunder and pillage fix with Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. Even better, the upcoming Skull & Bones looks to carry that baton into the next generation.
3 Kill Bill
This should have been a perfect fit with the subject matter. Quentin Tarantino flicks have always been violent affairs, and this one has a healthy dose of hack-and-slash action. Vivendi sought to translate that simple formula to a video game in the early 2000s. What’s more, is that Tarantino himself was onboard as a consultant.
It’s all the more perplexing, then, how quickly the hype evaporated. The project went quiet for unknown reasons, and the game never saw the light of day. Vivendi being swallowed up by Activision was the final nail in the coffin.
2 Casino Royale
This is ironic considering the impact that James Bond has had on the gaming industry, revolutionizing first-person shooters with GoldenEye 007. The spy series went back to basics with 2006’s Casino Royale, and EA sought to complement the reboot with a tie-in. Sadly, this title saw a swift cancellation when it couldn’t meet the film’s release. The resulting money loss caused a fallout between EA and MGM.
This freed Activision and Treyarch to form a new alliance with the Bond property, releasing a Quantum of Solace game in 2008. Though based on the eponymous sequel, the tie-in also lets fans play through Casino Royale. It’s similar to how the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers game incorporated The Fellowship of the Ring into its level selection, giving fans two titles for the price of one. In that sense, it’s hard to complain about the way things turned out.
1 Spider-Man 4
Here’s a rare case of cancellation on two fronts. Spider-Man games usually proved popular. That only amplified with the video game tie-in of 2004’s Spider-Man 2, which finally fulfilled the promise of swinging around an open-world New York City. While Spider-Man 3 wasn’t as successful–as a movie or game–director Sam Raimi resolved to redeem the series with the next entry. As such, Prototype developer Radical Entertainment aimed to do the same.
Sadly, the filmmaker’s falling out with Sony and subsequent franchise reboot meant that the Spider-Man 4 game was also canned. That said, the webhead saw many more games–some based on comics and others drawing from the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man flicks–but audiences would see no more titles inspired by the Raimi films. That is if you don’t count Friend or Foe, which most fans don’t.