Nearly five years since the launch of the last full-fledged Batman: Arkham game, WB Games finally seems poised to reveal a continuation of Batman’s Arkham legacy. But rather than let the Dark Knight step into the spotlight with the fanfare he deserves, WB’s promotional teases feel as if they’re testing the patience of fans rather than delivering what they’ve long hoped for — and possibly setting the developers up for unfair judgment, too.
As it stands right now, a new Batman game hasn’t officially been announced, but ever since Rocksteady’s trilogy came to a close in 2015 with Batman: Arkham Knight, fans have waited for the next in the series. Even as Rocksteady moved on to a still-unannounced new project (after completing Batman: Arkham VR), the world has waited for a return to Gotham.
The History of The Mystery Batman Game
And not without reason — since 2016, reports have suggested that Arkham Origins developer WB Games Montreal was focusing on a new Batman game. And fervor for the still-unannounced game rose again in 2018 when a WB Montreal developer tweeted an image that seemed to include a possible Batman: Court of Owls logo in it. But at the same time, the studio affirmed then that its new game — still not confirmed to be a Batman game — would not make an appearance at The Game Awards.
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The studio remained quiet, with E3 2019 passing without any info, but in September of 2019, the WB Games Montreal account tweeted out a Batman Day tease, which was also just ahead of an announced State of Play from Sony, highlighting a series of new logos and the tagline “Capture the knight.”
Then…nothing. For months — until now, when the account tweeted out partial logo images to signal yet another logo for this unknown Batman game. If I didn’t know any better I’d say we’re as much in for a Batman emblem pin set as we are a proper new video game.
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Why Constant Teasing Is More Tedious Than Tantalizing
And honestly, as a fan of the Batman: Arkham franchise? It’s a little exhausting. There’s no indication, especially given the sporadic timing of these two tweets, when a proper reveal will come. Inside Xboxes, States of Play, and The Game Awards have passed all without even a teaser, let alone a proper reveal.
Even if this Court of Owls game hasn’t been officially confirmed, we all know it’s coming — and it does the developers working on a project a disservice while the marketing department drip-feeds us images. There’s an art to teasing out information and playing things close to the chest, but this isn’t quite it, given the weighty expectations around the franchise and the lack of transparency about when this breadcrumb trail ends.
Take another superhero saga – Marvel’s Avengers. After an official teaser trailer and announcement in January 2017, all news around the game went dark until Square Enix gave us a name and a promise of seeing more at E3 2019, only to finally reveal gameplay footage, story info, and a behind-closed-doors demo. Even something non-superheroic, like Far Cry: New Dawn, got a tease ahead of its proper Game Awards reveal two years ago. But these teases for Batman, because of how sporadic they are, how tight-lipped WB as a whole has been about the future of Batman, and the lack of a clear endgame, have created an experience that, while originally intriguing, is now somewhat frustrating.
And it sets the developers up for an unfair first reveal. There are a lot of expectations placed on the first follow-up to Arkham Knight, and these logos keep creating the expectation for that reveal to drop any day now. Even the PS5 logo reveal from earlier this week, while a small thing, came with Jim Ryan’s promise that more about Sony’s next console will be known in the coming months. But for Batman, these teases have been followed by…nothing, making some fans irate for having to wait for a marketing plan that trades in hype but lacks in substance. (Yes, it’s fun to wonder how the League of Shadows or Court of Owls or GCPD may be involved, but with so little to go off of, it’s hard to speculate beyond figuring out what comic book runs to go read. And if the first reveal doesn’t showcase why these teases matter, it could further muddy the waters.)
Just take a look at the latest tweet, one that, as of this publishing, showcases the full logo that the account posted half of that same day. “Obnoxious;” “Please just announce the game;” and “Stop the teasing” are some of the frequent refrains the logo is being met with. Had this reveal and the one last September given… any indication about when an actual reveal would come, fans — myself included — would likely be more OK with this rollout. But for now, it’s just intermittently throwing images at the community that don’t properly represent the developers’ work and asking people to be excited about it.
That’s not a great way to treat fans, and it’s not a great way to treat the developers working hard on a game hidden behind obscure logo reveals who, presumably, want to share the excitement for their project with the audience who knows it’s out there. What these teaser images do is allow for endless speculation, and while that can be plenty of fun — and I’ve speculated myself about what I hope the game will be — those predictions can also have the reverse effect. Instead of generating excitement, it can lead to frustration with no end to the teases in sight, which sets the proper, full reveal up with weighty expectations to be worth the breadcrumb trailer before it. This would be the first Batman game in years, by the developers of a lesser-loved entry in the series, so it already comes saddled with baggage.
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I expect we’ll get a proper Batman reveal sometime this year – it could even be tomorrow, who knows — and maybe even a release, considering we’ll see new consoles launching next fall but I hope it’s not preceded by months and months of more teases without any tangible info about the game itself. This game in particular is saddled with a particularly long lead-up: we know it exists, and we’re just waiting for it to be something we can acknowledge. As IGN’s Brian Altano put it, it’s like having an unwrapped present underneath the Christmas tree, but you can’t use it yet.
There’s a time and place for a social media-fueled marketing campaign, but when it crosses the line into making fans feel like WB is pulling the rug out from underneath them, it may be best to either step into the light and make an announcement or stay in the shadows until the time is right. After all, that’s what Batman’s best at, isn’t it?
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.