As you all must know by now, Midway has lost a bit of momentum both financially and – some may argue – creatively in the final years leading to their file for bankruptcy in February 2009. Now probably everyone of you reading this at this point will have different theories on why this once behemoth of an arcade and home console publisher slowly began to dwindle: perhaps it was the dying market for arcades, or my favourite scapegoat, the current economic crisis that is to blame. Whatever the collective view is on this subject, what really counts is what happens to the Midway franchises that the gaming community have held onto so dearly, even through the company’s times of crisis. I am of course referring to the infamous and once controversial Mortal Kombat franchise.
In May 2009 – just three months following Midway’s file for bankruptcy – Warner Bros. won the rights to the majority of Midway Games’ assets for a generous $33 million. These assets included their Chicago and Seattle studios, and the trophy that is the Mortal Kombat franchise. Warner Bros. had of course worked on a Mortal Kombat title in the past. There is no need to state which as I’m sure you all know what I’m referring to. The outcome of which was not necessarily welcomed with open arms due to its diluted age certification; and consequentially, its gore (which is a staple of the franchise that lead to its initial success and continual recognition). What I want to know, and I’m sure others will as well, is what Warner Bros. plan to do with this IP now that they own the rights. Now some of you may have enjoyed or even loved MK vs. DC Universe, but for them to continue down this path and merely release a sequel seems like completely the wrong first step to take as the series’ new publisher. What I want to propose is that they take the series back to its 2-D roots and tap into the growing XBLA and PSN download market.
There is no denying the growing success of re-releasing arcade greats for the 360’s and Playstation 3’s online community. In recent months we have seen more classic 2-D fighters being given a new lick of paint and a new life, by making them available for download. The success of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 to name a few, are examples that there is still a market for these games. I’m not arguing that Warner Bros. should release a re-hash of a past Mortal Kombat classic in HD and make it available to download with an unnecessarily long-winded title (cough cough Capcom), but that they should go away and surprise the whole gaming community by announcing at the next E3 that they are currently developing a new 2-D Mortal Kombat game from the ground up that retains the soul of the first three. Perhaps they could sweeten the deal by adding new fighting mechanics that heighten the traditional experience rather than replace it (similar to what Capcom achieved by introducing the focus attack and revenge meter in Street Fighter IV), or by upgrading the visuals to HD quality without replacing them with 3-D modelling; to keep the essence of the original arcade aesthetic?
I could ramble on forever, but if you’re still cynical about my “modest” FRANCHISE SAVING! concept then look at how well Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 sold when it was available for download in 2006; and that was when the online community was less than 1/5 of what it is today. Anyway that’s enough from me but what do you think? Do you think exploiting nostalgia is a way to save the series, or perhaps you think they should continue down the assured path they have been treading in recent years? Maybe you just think it should rest in piece and live on top a pedestal in our memories as one of the arcade greats; or alternatively you couldn’t care less about the series so aren’t particularly interested in its future? Share your thoughts and who knows, we might be able to get a signed partition in the works.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com