As we all know Rocksteady Studios has been quite vocal about the fact that Batman: Arkham Knight will be their final installment in the critically acclaimed Arkham franchise.
According to Rocksteady’s Dax Ginn, “Anything we do is a collective decision between Rocksteady, Warner Brothers, and DC Comics. But it was something that we were really pushing for because we had a really clear vision of how this story should end, and the way we wanted it to end.”
The question remains, will the way Rocksteady ends their trilogy leave room for anything else in the franchise?
Going into Arkham Knight, Rocksteady knew this was going to be their epic conclusion. They wanted to deliver that Brothers element that would drive the fan experience to its limit.
“For us I think the Batmobile is that final thing,” Ginn says. “It’s such a critical part of the game, the epicenter of the design, but once we’ve done this, I don’t know we’re ever going to feel like we’ve missed out on a critical piece of what it feels like to be the Batman. That was kind of our driving force all along.”
Ever since Arkham Asylum the fans have been asking when they’d get an opportunity to drive the Batmobile. Rocksteady knew if they were going to provide the fans with that experience, they would need to nail it. So they committed to take the time needed to develop the definitive Batman experience.
During that time Warner Brothers Montreal developed Batman: Arkham Origins, which delivered the same level of gameplay that we’ve come to love and expect from the franchise. Warner Brothers and DC Comics also proved that they could write an original story that not only fit into the franchise, but could easily stand up against the others in the series.
With a little more than 2 months to the release of Arkham Knight on June 23rd, we’re all left wondering what’s next? Would Warner Brothers keep the franchise alive?
First we should take a look at the overall success of the franchise, this will definitely play a role into any decision that’s made.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Sold 593,000 units in the first 5 days of release.
- By the end of the first month, it sold 2.5 million units.
- In total it sold 4.3 million units.
- It was even awarded a Guinness Worlds Record for being the “Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”.
Batman: Arkham City
- Sold 2 million units in the 1st week of release.
- Within the first 4 months it sold a total of 6 million units.
- Sold 1 million units during the 1st week of release.
- Overall sales were on par with Arkham Asylum.
As successful as this franchise has been, I find it hard to believe that WB hasn’t had internal discussions to keep it going beyond Arkham Knight. Unless of course the end that Rocksteady wanted, was the death of Batman?
A few months ago there was a leak discovered on the Amazon UK listing for the limited edition version of the game, it revealed that the plaque on the collectors statue read “From a Grateful City In Memory of the Gotham Knight”. The item description also described the statue as, “an imposing Batman memorial statue commemorating Gotham’s protector, the Dark Knight”. This could certainly suggest the death of the Dark Knight and the idea of any subsequent sequels. However Amazon has since replaced their image of the statue with one that simply reads, ” The Gotham Knight”. Is it possible that the original image was designed in the hopes that it would be discovered and leaked as a marketing ploy?
In the event that Batman actually dies at the end of Arkham Knight, would that necessarily mean the end? WB has already proven that they aren’t adverse to stepping into the franchise with a prequel. As I mentioned, the story that was developed for Arkham Origins easily stood up to the others in the franchise and was one of the best Joker storylines. They also managed to devise an improved investigation mechanic that allowed itself to be directly tied to the story and not just a means of finding the next point of interest.
Unfortunately it wasn’t perfect. From day one, the game was riddled with game breaking bugs that WB opted not to patch so they could focus on delivering DLC. They also put a lot of energy into the multiplayer aspect, however it wasn’t nearly as successful as they’d hoped. The community wasn’t behind it, primarily because the gameplay didn’t maintain the same feel as the campaign. It felt like it had been shoehorned in as a novelty, which simply didn’t work as planned.
However if WB were to decide on stepping back in with a prequel or sequel, they need to make sure they;
- Focus on story: Placing the same level of importance on the story as they did in Origins, potentially giving us another intimate look into another villain of the Arkhamverse.
- Gadgets: Make sure they feel like they belong. The shock gloves that were added in Origins were so effective, why wouldn’t Batman have continued using them later in his career? This was another novelty that wasn’t need or needed to be explained away.
- Innovation: They tried to innovate with the multiplayer functionality, however they needed to recognize it just didn’t work as planned. Instead I would’ve focused on developing another in game playable character with their own side story, similar to Catwoman in Arkham City and Harley Quinn in Arkham Knight. No matter what, there needs to be an element of something new.
- Development: Again, they need to recognize when something doesn’t work. Take the time needed to play it, identify the bugs, and work to resolve before release. Delaying release is a lot healthier for the longevity of the game and franchise, as opposed to releasing a game that doesn’t work.
Then again, what if WB decides not to continue the franchise? What if they were to explore other DC Comics properties?
Arkham Origins made reference to both the Green Arrow as well as the Suicide Squad, could these be possibilities?
What if they were to step outside of the Arkhamverse altogether. What if they were to focus on characters that they’ll be developing for the planned cinematic releases? As long as its clear, nobody wants adaptations of movies.
What if they were to tap into the new 52 continuity, bridge the gap between or lead into an upcoming major comic event?
There are certainly any number of options to ensure they keep the DC Comics universe alive, only time will tell what will be next. Let’s remember Rocksteady has said this is their last entry in the Arkham franchise, they never said they’d be stepping away from Warner Brothers or DC Comics properties.
What would you want to see next? What wouldn’t you want to see? Let us know in the comments below…