Blade Runner game would have destroyed Gearbox says Pitchford

License "would've been the end of Gearbox" claims Aliens: Colonial Marines dev

Creating a game adaption of classic science fiction movie Blade Runner "would've been the end of Gearbox", claims CEO Randy Pitchford in a new interview.

Speaking in the Official PlayStation Magazine, Pitchford claimed that the company had a list of dream properties in 2008 and that it "got them all". Post 2008 the developer has annouced Sega sequel Samba de Amigo, movie tie-in Aliens: Colonial Marines and the release of Duke Nukem Forever.

"Blade Runner was on [the list]," says Pitchford. "We had it too and we were like, 'No, we can't.' That game would've cost like $40m to make and sold about 600,000 units - and that would have been the end of us.

"There's no rational business model that would have allowed that to make sense. If we'd made it with a business model that did work, it would not have been the Blade Runner game we all would have wanted."

In the interview, as related by CVG, Pitchford revealed that fellow Gearbox co-founder Brian Martell met with Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott to discuss plans for the game.

Two video games have been created based on the film, the first a contemporary tie-in for 8-bit computers that for licensing reasons was officially based only on the film score. In 1997 Command & Conquer creators Westwood Studios created a graphic adventure 'side story' inspired by the film.

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Latest comments (15)

This is interesting new to hear for sure. Surely it does not cost $40m to make a good bladerunner game.
Even a good demo should cost a fraction of that cost to produce something decent and immersive, with the right crew, studio and project management using a small incubation studio/crew.
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde10 years ago
That's a shame, but at the same time it suggests they would have truly invested in the property rather than make a half-baked attempt to cash-in on the brand. I hope that Aliens: Colonial Marines reflects this ideal.

Alas, I still only have the '97 game to play...

(Btw. If you can find a copy of the Westwood game, go for it, it's pretty awesome).
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 10 years ago
Considering how Duke Nukem did, its a smart move for them. They should focus on a well designed game and original IP, rather then just get a game out the door because of what its called. The thought of a Blade Runner game sounds cool, but it works well enough for movies. I dont think its a property that needs to be turned into a game. Gearbox should focus on an original well made game that can become a franchise that will give them high sales. i particularly liked border lands. They clearly have potential to make great games.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I agree with Chee's comments; I don't think a Blade Runner game would need to be a hulking big budget monster. Given the relatively niche brand (niche seems the wrong word for it, but it's hardly mainstream in the sense of Aliens, The Terminator et al) it probably wouldn't have been a good decision to make it into a game costing tens of millions of dollars. However, I feel it could probably do quite well on Steam, PSN and XBL though, if budgets are managed accordingly. Not sure what genre it would be in, but I feel a licence like that would be a better fit in the downloadable scene, like say Monkey Island.
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Well, one has to wonder how much of the costs is related to the IPs price point.

Now if they were really serious about a Blade Runner game, it doesnt cost much for a small incubation team to produce a proof of concept Blade Runner esque IP without the name to back it.

1 concept artist
1 programmer
1 3D dude
1 audio dude/ete

3 months pay.

Lets say this was promising, I still couldn't fit in $40m.

But I do postulate, with that amount of money, one could produce a string of 3 AAlite games (1.5 year schedule), with polish, fun and new IPs, some high quality casual games (8m-1 year development), and some XBLA/PSN/Facebook titles for $15-20m and (if rent was cheap) probably build a new satellite studio and still have some change to boot.
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Kenneth Mcmorran 3D/Environment Artist 10 years ago
I would imagine a Bladerunner game being something similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution in terms of scale and production. I think the problem lies with the target audience on this one, Bladerunner is a fantastic movie (my personal favourite) but im continually amazed at the amount of people who havent watched the movie never mind read the original book.

"Bladerunner? Is that a l33t ice hockey game?"
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Depends if anyone has read Philip K Dick. There is tons of rich material in each short story itself, no need to strip mine blade runner to death
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
Something to consider when looking at the comment on cost, is that when Gearbox say it would have cost $40M plus, they are talking about the game they would have made, and been happy with. Gearbox make shooters (Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, PC Halo port, finished off DN forever, are working on an Aliens shooter, ok Samba de Amigo sequel may be a departure. Not played the original but I don't believe it's a shooter?). My point is for Gearbox to make a Bladerunner game it would likely be a FPS, and to do it justice then we are probably looking at it being like Deus Ex, or at least the Darkness. That's not to say it would cost Telltale the same to make a decent Bladerunner game. I know the Westwood adventure is highly regarded, but if Gearbox have no interest or expertise in that sort of game, then they still would be unlikely to come up with a good result.
So, I agree that it shouldn't necissarily cost any studio that much to make a good Bladerunner game, it is possibly correct that it would cost Gearbox that much to do a game that did both the licence and the studio justice.
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@ Andrew - some good points raised there. So playing Devil's advocate - which studio (hypothetically?) would have been best to produce a decent Blade Runner-esque game, whilst keeping cost at a affordable rate I wonder
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
@Chee. I mentioned Telltale, and depending how Jurassic Park plays out, I wouldn't discount that. I'm sure there are others, I'm trying to think other other modern games that would allow the important bits of the licence to shine through without adding a fortune, I'll add if I can think, but Telltale is definitely the first that came to mind.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
In terms of who I think could make a good Blade Runner game, without considering the cost as much, Starbreeze or Machine games, with their work on the Darkness, and more impotantly Riddick Escape from Butcher Bay. Although a lot of the guys responsible formed Machinegames, Starbreeze's MO is making quality games from existing licences, whilst I believe Machinegames wanted to work on original IP, so I would favour Starbreeze. Whether they could do it cheaper though, I don't know.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
Or you could go the other way, let Rockstar at it, and although it would cost a fortune, they may actually come up with something that opens the licence into a wider conciousness. I also would like to see Rockstar aplly the GTA/RDR formula to a gritty Sci-Fi property, but that's a personal thing. However, there may not be much in it for them if they could do the same with their own new IP.
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My other (fantasy game developer league) approach would be for folks with their own proprietary engine or manpower.

Eg 1. id software - RAGE. They have their own tech, they have the AAA manpower. They just need to figure if buying a license is worth it, or produce their own version...although they have a post apocalyptic skillset, its not that far a jump to move into a bladerunner dieselpunk world.

Eg 2. Guerilla Games (they have the purchasing power. They have the manpower)

Eg 3 DICE (they have the tech, manpower and european aesthetics to do a awesome job)
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Nicolas D'Offay Programmer, Lightning Fish Games10 years ago
Anyone remember the Westwood Bladerunner?
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Kenneth Mcmorran 3D/Environment Artist 10 years ago
Id like to see it point and click with ridiculously gorgeous pre-rendered backdrops, its about time someone did the point and click adventure game genre justice.

But in reality I would probably choose Remedy as the developer.
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