It’s been over four years since the last mainline Batman Arkham game released and almost three since since Batman: Arkham VR. Just where the hell is Rocksteady’s next game?
The Batman: Arkham series are incredibly popular action games, and are the games to check out within Rocksteady’s already-small portfolio. So you would think that following up on the series periodically would be an obvious course of action. Arkham Asylum and Arkham City both released in 2009 and 2011, respectively, and Arkham Knight released in 2015, with the virtual reality title Arkham VR releasing in the following year. But why haven’t there been new titles since the release of Arkham Knight, their last major work for the Arkham franchise? We have had a lot of hype and promises, but in terms of delivery in the form of a new game, nothing.
Rocksteady is a British game development company, wholly owned by Warner Bros., though prior to this Square-Enix did own some share of the company, while Warner Bros would still hold majority stake during that time. An appearance from Rocksteady was eagerly anticipated at E3 this year, but the company would skip on the festivities, much to the dismay of waiting fans. This tweet states from game director and Rocksteady co-founder Sefton Hill states that the company would be working on their next big project in the meantime. But it’s quite some time to go without releases, even after the release of Arkham VR.
As you might expect, this wouldn’t even be the first time that a new Rocksteady game has been anticipated or teased – and not even just a new Batman game. Rumors of a new Superman game back in 2017 might come to mind – and when was the last great Superman game released? And this year, rumors of a Justice League game, though traced back to a tweet from a new hire for the company, and not in any way indicative of a new project rather than simply being a picture of the Justice League. Those following news about Rocksteady as a studio may have been treated to the whirlwind hype of a new Outlaws game – Outlaws being the name of a vigilante group within DC Comics. The Outlaws are particularly interesting considering that they are led by a character named Red Hood, and that character is an alias most associated with Jason Todd.
Jason Todd is an important name because he has also assumed the role of Robin, Batman’s sidekick, within DC comics lore, although it may be argued the name of Robin is more associated with Dick Grayson. But it’s not just this – major spoiler warnings for Arkham Knight, but THE Arkham Knight in Batman: Arkham Knight is also Jason Todd. Todd harbored anger against Batman as he felt that Batman abandoned him, and retains scars after he was tortured by the Joker, but Todd also saves Batman later in the climax of the game.
Suffice it to say, Arkham Knight left something of an opening for an Outlaws game, and the hype surrounding Outlaws was believable at the time, including an accompanying piece of box art that circulated with the rumors…but for the fact that it was all for naught, and later proven to be fake. It can be a trying experience to be someone watching for news from Rocksteady Twitter accounts. Perhaps nothing encapsulates that experience as this tweet from 2017 – asking for patience, and promising something that’s going to make everyone lose their minds. It’s fair to say that fans will have lost their patience waiting for whatever the new project is supposed to be that’s supposed to be making everyone excited. “Wait…for news, eventually!” But that can feel increasingly difficult to ask, since it has been some years.
It is however understandable that there are still Arkham fans waiting for more games in the franchise – the media that made the company what it is, and what created such a fervent base and an impatient and watching games media – us included. Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that in February, Rocksteady put out job postings on their website meant for a global promotional campaign of a major triple-A game. We’ve yet to see what that campaign would be for, but it at least suggests that Rocksteady plans on promoting something.
For those hoping for comment on the Arkham series separately from the company, this tweet from Batman voice actor (from the Arkham series) Kevin Conroy might offer some hope. It may be worth considering that the tweet was made at the end of this past June, and so while it’s not necessarily indicative of an Arkham game in particular being in the pipeline, it’s much more reason for optimism rather than seeing a celebratory tweet that gets left by the wayside, only to be seen as something commemorating a triumph for the company in years past. And considering that Conroy’s tweet asks “but why stop there?”, it’s a rather aggressive suggestion at least asking for more Arkham games or, more optimistically, suggesting that the Caped Crusader’s adventures in the Arkham games will continue soon. That tweet, perhaps, is not as aggressive as this one.
Congratulating the company on its new hires, and then asking for them to get to work on a new Arkham game. And that tweet is dated to late May of this year. Even if there weren’t a new Arkham game in the works, it’s nice to have such an ardent champion in the games in someone so clearly relevant to the franchise as the voice actor himself for Batman in the Arkham franchise. While he can’t promise anything since he doesn’t work in game development, it’s also something of a relief nonetheless to see him speak, because his support is unambiguous.
And that concludes our article talking about where the hell Rocksteady’s new game is supposed to be. The Arkham games clearly sell well, and are very popular. They star one of the most popular American comic book superheroes of all time in Batman, an icon whose status as such has with stood the test of time. Beyond just the status of Batman himself, the Batman franchise is host to a diverse rogues gallery – an absolute boon for comic book heroes – and a great cast of accompanying characters to create conflict with Batman and show more dimensions to the character, or to generally raise the stakes in a story.
These games cemented Rocksteady’s status as a studio capable of delivering popular triple-A games, and outside of such high-profile and high-development games, it doesn’t seem like Rocksteady has anything else planned. It simply remains the case that for reasons that we cannot ascertain, Rocksteady is unwilling to go public with whatever their next new project is. There clearly is something new in the works, and it has repeatedly been outwardly promoted by Rocksteady that there is something being worked on. But, as it has been for the past years, we are left with nothing but to wait.
Tell us what you expect the next Rocksteady game to be. Do you think that we are going to get another Arkham game, or will we be receiving something entirely new – another DC Comics property, or something entirely outside of these safer bounds of speculation – a new IP, or a non-comics license? Why do you think that it has taken so long for the announcement of Rocksteady’s new game? Your guess is as good as ours – the company doesn’t lack the skill or support for whatever they wish to work on. Might it have anything to do with an impending console generation transition for the Playstation and Xbox brands? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.