In 2007 Michael Bay brought to life a Blockbuster franchise that would hit 1 billion dollars with just its 4th installment alone. And although the movie gets a lot of hate, the sales show that fast-paced and intense action draws large audiences.
With the movie having been released 9 months ago, I was searching for something new to fulfill that destructive impulse Transformers captures so well. So I recently skimmed through some gameplays of the movie-based Transformers games, and unsurprisingly, but still disappointing, there was not a single minute of human gameplay.
Now I understand that adding in a human side to the gameplay would be more work for the game developers, and most movie games are quick cash grabs, but I think it's hard to deny that the human's impact is what help makes the movies so appealing.
Hasbro also has another Transformers series going on that takes place on Cybertron instead of Earth. And while this series still has good games, the Autobots fighting Decepticons on Cybertron story caters more towards the fans of the original series. Hasbro making video games for their loyal fans is the right move, but let's not forget that fans of the "Bayformers" universe are still fans too.
Furthermore, no Transformers game since the movie's release has finished as a top 100 selling game (vgchartz.com). The 1986 Transformers movie also had disappointing results for its time coming in 14th for its opening weekend, while topping a Michael Bay Transformers movie is quite the achievement. Also, the quote on the 1986 movie's Wikipedia page by Caryn James of The New York Times is pretty interesting, "While all this action may captivate young children, the animation is not spectacular enough to dazzle adults". The CGI Bayformers have now definitely dazzled adults.
Ok so how could a Transformers game actually appeal to the same audiences as the Blockbuster movie? In the released Transformers games of both current series you do get to be destructive, but that's not exactly the formula of Michael Bay's movies. To help answer, let's take a look at something very familiar to the video game industry.
Call of Duty follows a pretty simple formula for all of their games. You get to do at least one new, cool thing as you shoot your way through hundreds of faceless soldiers until you kill off the generic bad guy who has soft motivation for trying to kill off billions of people. So let's follow this formula with a game concept.
Well a Transformers game can easily cover the cool parts.
(Call of Duty: AW spoilers in this paragraph) Flying the jet in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was alright, but there wasn't much point in even having that mission other than for the game to have a jet mission. There's really no motivation to shoot the bad guys since we understand them as "the next guys we get to shoot". The characters don't even care who they're shooting at. At one point in the campaign a character states that we'll be shooting up our old teammates, to which our commander says to "move on", and our characters have no trouble doing so instantly.
So now let's imagine our jet mission now revolves around chasing the jet Decepticon Starscream through a big name metropolis in an explosive heavy dogfight. Now we have a reason to kill and a jet mission. Heck, we could even kill off a lower ranked Decepticon like Skywarp or Thundercracker instead of a main villain.
Furthermore, what made the action so good in Transformers 2007 is that every grenade or tank shell the human soldiers were putting into the Decepticons were actually doing damage to some important villains.
This is what Transformers can do that Call of Duty can't, sure we could fight off a lot of "drone" Decepticon soldiers like in the current Transformers games. But the amount of "useless kills" should be limited seeing as you can kill off hundreds of bad guys in any game, and that concept is pretty stale as it is. Also, our villain Megatron has his own reasons for doing what he does, so the villain's motives will be much easier to construct.
And finally, what gives Michael Bay's movies that main advantage is that he gives us that ONE action sequence we all love seeing in movies, but instead of giving us just one, he fills the entire movie with it. This is what a Transformers game can, and should be doing. I want to go from being a soldier hiding behind a tank while a threatening Starscream transforms into a Jet right above my head, to playing as Bumblebee blasting my way through a wall to rescue human soldiers from a massive Decepticon.