Bad Design or Shameless Cash Grab? Licensed Games

The Video Game industry has garnered a lot of respect due to its marketing successes. Triple A titles have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The industry also lacks quality control at all levels of entry so it is no surprise that someone looking to make a quick buck would release a sub-par or poorly made game to the masses.

According to an article on TV Tropes titled The Problem with Licensed Games, licensed games are marketed in two different ways. The first and most obvious being the quality of the game, and the second being the reputation or recognition of the game’s title. It also cites that even if a licensed game is made with good intentions, most of the production money goes into purchasing the license which leads to budget issues down the line.

Another article by Jared Cornelius of A History of Vileness: The Problem With Licensed Video Games provides a similar insight into licensed games, but takes a much more direct approach. The writer directly blames licensed video games like the infamous E.T. for the video game crash of 1983 that almost ruined the industry.

With so many terrible experiences and broken promises surrounding them, it’s no wonder there is such a stigma surrounding licensed games. YouTube reviewer SomecallmeJohnny reviewed Cory in the House for the nintendo DS. A game based on the kind of sort of popular Disney Channel sequel to That’s So Raven. In his video he mocks the game’s lazy mechanics and barely cohesive story. It is obvious that the game was only made to turn a quick buck and that the developers had absolutely no respect for the fans or the consumers whatsoever.

Although all games should be skeptical of licensed games, there are several examples of successful ones. The Batman Arkham franchise has been heralded as “The Best Super Hero games on the market.” by YouTuber Angry Joe. He has released reviews for every game in the franchise and they have all been fairly positive. The Lego games franchise has drawn in fans of Star Wars, Indiana Jones Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings with its charming art style and unique game mechanics.

YouTube personalities like the Angry Video Game Nerd and PewDiePie have their own respective licensed games like AVGN Adventures and its recently released sequel AVGN Adventures 2: ASSimilation while Pewds has Legends of the Brofist. These games serve as love letters to the fans and are full of references to their own content. I personally await Jim Sterling‘s Licensed Game Adventure! 


6 thoughts on “Bad Design or Shameless Cash Grab? Licensed Games

  1. kevinurban12

    Super Smash YouTubers. Featuring PewDiePie,The Angry Video Game Nerd, Markiplier, The Game Grumps (Down Special seperates them), Cryaotic and Dodger. DLC Nostalgia Critic, Jim Sterling, and there top tier for $7.99.


  2. Matthew M. Dolan

    I agree that licensed games tend to be mediocre at best. Another reason tends to be designers being pushed to release the game along side a movie or new season. Would you say this is an issue with trading card and board games as well?


    1. Mike Gonthier Post author

      Absolutely! There are tons of different versions of Monopoly. Fallout, The Walking Dead, The Legend of Zelda… The list goes on. Personally I think they’re rather shameless. Other board games suffer due to their strict adherence to the source material which can result in a three to four hour session of simply trying to understand the rules of the game.


  3. Renae Hatcher

    Great post- I think you incorporated links in a great way, and as a non-video game user, you kept me interested as a reader! Do you think licensed games are being marketed in the right way within today’s society?


    1. Mike Gonthier Post author

      Personally I think the marketing is terrible and rather manipulative. Whenever a new Marvel movie comes out, a licensed game is sure to follow. Most seasoned gamers know that its probably a bad game, but kids honestly do not know any better. I feel that exploiting a younger demographic and selling them intentional watered down products is pretty scummy.



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