The Batman IP has been through a lot over the last 10 years or so. lots of movies, comics, and video games have been released starring the Dark Knight and most of that has been received well if not extremely well. That said, it does seem that, at least in the video game world, we’re starting to lay off that IP in favor of other things in the DC Universe that may or may not involve Batman but just not being centered around him. Whether you think this is a good thing or not is up to you but there is no denying that we’ve been fairly saturated with Batman stuff over the last few years and it would make sense for everyone to just step back from him a little bit and take a bit of a break.
At the very least, it seems that Rocksteady certainly believes that. The last decade has seen them release three Batman focused games (four, if you count Batman Arkham VR). And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, as those are all excellent games. But with their next game being a Suicide Squad game, that, so far, does not seem to involve Batman, and WB Games Montreal, the team behind Arkham Origins working on Gotham Knights, a game that is not set in the Arkham timeline but possibly involves Batman, you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering when exactly the next true Batman game will come out.
With no real substantial amount of time passing over the last couple of decades without a game featuring Batman, I wouldn’t put a lot of money on that trend going away. While it is true that the two developers most known for the modern Batman games are working on different games, those two games are relatively close to being released. Montreal’s game is aiming to be released this year, while Rocksteady’s is aiming for next year. While Rocksteady’s is aiming for next year. So assuming that they are going to go back to Batman at some point in some form, we could only be a year or two away from Principal development on a new Batman game beginning from either of these developers. That of course would still mean the fruits of their labor would be several years off, as game development is anything but a fast process, but I think, worst case scenario, that would be what we would be looking at. Batman is just too popular and too profitable to be left alone for more than a few years. If nobody gets to the Dark Knight before either of these two studios has a chance to then they will certainly be more than able to pick up the mantle and do something with it.
But I find that to be less likely, considering the trajectory of those two studios and the fact that no developer wants to make the same game for more than 10 years or so. It definitely happens, but with the amount of studios that Warner Bros Interactive has under their umbrella, I think it would be a waste of their talent to force them to make the same Gotham-centric games over and over again until the end of time. One studio that is likely to be making a game with Batman in it very soon if they aren’t already is NetherRealm studios. Taking a brief glance at their development history since being acquired, you’ll see that they’ve largely gone back and forth from releasing Mortal Kombat and Injustice games every two years.
Given that both of those franchises are extremely popular and extremely good, it shouldn’t be much of a shock to anyone that an Injustice 3 is probably in development right now and likely on the way for this year or at the latest, early 2022. Granted that won’t necessarily be a Batman game, but if the campaign of it is anything like the previous two Injustice games it will heavily focus on Batman and other DC characters. So while that’s not exactly the same as getting another Arkham-type game, it should be enough to whet your appetite while also satisfying it in a small way until whatever the next major Batman game is gets finished up. This is something I would bet money on I think it’s almost certainly going to happen, so if you find yourself missing Batman right now you have, at the very least, his appearance in an Injustice 3 to look forward to for at least the relatively near future.
But the truth remains that Warner Bros interactive would be crazy to not have another Batman game in development at this time. Whether it’s in full-on development or pre-production or some other conceptual phase is totally debatable, but surely something is cooking somewhere among there other studios. Let’s not forget, Warner Bros Interactive also has Avalanche Software, Monolith Productions, and WB Games Boston. All of which are immensely talented and capable studios that, if given the proper amount of time and resources, could more than handle the Batman IP with the grace and dedication that it deserves with a fully-fledged new game for the franchise. They are decidedly smaller studios but given that the next Batman game would need an entirely new direction anyway, so perhaps something of a similar nature on a smaller scale would be appropriate for the series at this point.
This frees up the franchise to potentially be in the hands of a smaller studio in a smaller game with perhaps a simpler art style less focused on realism. Perhaps something from the old school days that resembles the original TV show or even the Tim Burton movies. Kind of like how the Transformers: War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron games sort of wrapped up and then we saw PlatinumGames come out with an entirely different, but still equally awesome Transformers game with Devastation, thematically focused on the original cartoon show and far simpler in scope, but all the more refreshing and outstanding for it.
Whatever happens with Batman, it’s going to need to be something different then what we saw come out of the Arkham series. Obviously, a direct continuation of Arkham Knight isn’t going to happen, and Arkham Asylum isn’t quite old enough yet to justify any sort of major remake, so the justification to continue with that style and look is pretty thin. And with that, Rocksteady and WB Games Montreal seem to be aiming to stretch their legs with different things I’ll be at staying in the DC universe, so I think it would make the most sense to hand Batman off to another developer entirely, probably avalanche if I had to make an educated guess, and let them take the character into an entirely different direction that fits into the best possible balance of their development style and what they think gamers of today want to play. The Arkham series is done and it was pretty much perfected. To continue to try to chase that dragon would only lead to comparisons which would only lead to people pointing out why it’s not as good as those games. The smartest idea is to let those games be what they are and move on in an entirely new direction. Whether or not they will actually take that path is up to them, but I think the case for doing so pretty much argues itself.
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