Did Suicide Squad Miss the Boat?
There was a time when Suicide Squad and in particular Harley Quinn were huge. And that coincided with a time when superhero GAAS titles were soaked in potential. That time is decidedly not now.
I don’t have strong opinions on the showing of Rocksteady’s new Suicide Squad. It debuted to mixed reaction at this week’s PlayStation State of Play, and while I won’t be rushing out to buy it, decent reviews make it a must-play at some point. These are the guys that made Arkham City, after all.
But one thing did hit me: how awesome this would have been if it could have been a PS5/Series X launch game. I know, just plug in the time machine, right? With covid raging, too.
But seriously, there are games that just seem to release slightly too late to hit their mark. We’re talking about Rocksteady – one of the biggest and most celebrated developers in the industry… in 2011. And Suicide Squad, which was huge in 2016 and had a superior but not quite as culturally impactful return in 2021. And then The Avengers came along and ruined the idea of bright, colourful superhero games that follow the GAAS model.
Had Suicide Squad appeared at the right point in the middle of all of that, it would be generating a lot more excitement than it currently is.
Now listen, it’s a licensed IP from DC, in a genre that is hugely popular. This isn’t a doom prediction. I think it’ll sell decently. But it won’t do as well as Arkham City did, and I predict we won’t be talking about it in 12 years in the same way either.
Sometimes things just don’t work out, time wise. And it’ll be interesting to see the impact.
After Suicide Squad
Because it’s interesting to think about what exactly is going to happen once Suicide Squad comes out. I have no doubt Warner Bros is banking on it making billions and being supported by half the planet. But what if it does modestly?
Will we finally be able to put a stop to all these GAAS superhero games? When Spider-Man 2 sells more copies that Suicide Squad and The Avengers combined, will third parties finally learn their lessons here?
I’d almost rather play a Harley Quinn game than a Suicide Squad game, in the same way I’d rather play as Batman than Robin, Batgirl and an assortment of other non-stars. It’s not that they’re not interesting, it’s just that they’re not who I’d pick to choose from.
In that vein, it’s funny to think that we’ll be playing as Captain Boomerang in a modern videogame before Superman. That’s how you know priorities are all over the place here.
But more than that, what happens to Rocksteady? Where do they go after this? Their last full single-player game was in 2015. What do they do for the next eight years if Suicide Squad underperforms? Are they freed from Batman and Friends, or will they have to try and find a new IP within the DC catalogue to build into whatever profitable, buzzword genre happens to be popular at the time?