In today’s world, all it takes is one good critical and commercial game release to be noticed. In the case of developer Rocksteady Studios, that game was Batman: Arkham Asylum. Let’s put two and two together, shall we? An independent developer making their first game which is based on DC’s most popular superhero…published by Eidos no less. If that’s not a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is. Fortunately for us, Batman turned out to be the most surprising title of 2009 alongside other IPs such as Borderlands.
Warner Bros. Interactive obviously noticed all the hype since they’ve been demanding quality control of their IPs as of late. Not only did they take over full publishing duties of the inevitable sequel, but now we’ve learned that Warner actually bought out Rocksteady! Details of the deal are not disclosed, but both parties have begun their PR work by announcing how happy they are. If I were Rocksteady, I would be thrilled indeed. Cinderella stories don’t happen very often with independent developers these days. A gamer’s perspective, however, is different. We’ve all seen the various closures during the past two years or so. Some of our favorites developers went down the drain before getting to prove themselves…at least half of these companies were separate entities bought out by publishers then disbanded (I’m looking at you, EA and Activision).
So even though Rocksteady is under excellent hands right now, I can’t help but think of what will happen as soon as they slip up. There are no perfect track records in the gaming industry, after all. For now though, let’s try and look at the glass half full…Arkham Asylum 2 is going to be one of the biggest titles this year thanks to this new-found partnership. I also have a feeling that this won’t be the end of Warner’s crusade for quality. 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts was also a breakout hit for the DS last year…could Warner be eying them, too? Only time will tell.