Batman: Arkham Origins Dev Talks Pressure of Living Up to Franchise Success
Senior producer Ben Mattes talks about the initial reaction to the game and how it changed over time.
When Batman: Arkham Origins first debuted, there was a ton of skepticism considering that the game is a prequel and not developed by Rocksteady Games, which handled both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. According to WB Games Montreal senior producer Ben Mattes in conversation with Eurogamer, there was plenty of pressure on the team.
“Obviously resistance and reluctance exists at every level. There were fans who said: ‘They’re not Rocksteady, they can’t make an Arkham game.’ And there were concerns within the organisation that we weren’t going to be able to deliver the special sauce of a Rocksteady game.
“And there were concerns within our team, like – ‘Maybe we’ve bitten off more than we can chew? Are we sure we’re able to dance with these guys? Do we deserve to be in this same hallowed ground?’ – but we wouldn’t have continued through the years if we didn’t feel we had a shot. I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”
Mattes described the initial reaction as “a 60-40 split of positivity to hesitation or maybe outright dismay” from fans. “Y’know: ‘It’s not Rocksteady. It’s a prequel. It’s not the original voice actors. Forget it. Ignore. Never paying attention to it.’
“But I think every subsequent piece of code we’ve shown has won over more and more of the public, to the point where it now stands out as an exception if we see someone who’s still towing that line of: ‘It’s not Rocksteady, it’s not going to be good.’ There’s only, like, one in a 1000 it seems now still playing that card.
As noted, there is plenty of pressure on the game to deliver. Much as we’d hate to admit it, we live in an age where review scores determine bonuses for development teams and ultimately dictate the fate of franchise. Mattes isn’t oblivious at all to this. “You don’t want to be the guys who messed up and ran into the ground one of the absolute, top-rated franchises of all time. You don’t want that at the top of your CV. ‘Yeah, I’m the guy who turned a 96 into a 60, that’s my claim to fame.’ So I think there was an extra desire to create something really great as we were fully aware of the opportunity that we had.”
With Batman: Arkham Origins releasing on October 25th worldwide for PC, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii U, Mattes does feel that “honestly, this game we’ve created is the game we set out to create. It is exactly the story we wanted to tell with exactly the areas of focus we aimed to do.” And that’s more enough at the end of the day. Stay tuned to our official review of the game.