Producer discusses initial “resistance and reluctance” in making Batman: Arkham Origins
Throughout the creation process, Warner Bros. Montreal was forced to deal with “resistance and reluctance” at “every level” while developing Batman: Arkham Origins, according to senior producer Ben Mattes.
Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles was facing skepticism from fans. Because Rocksteady was out of the picture, some felt Warner Bros. Montreal wouldn’t be able to deliver an Arkham game. Mattes said there were also “concerns within the organisation that we weren’t going to be able to deliver the special sauce of a Rocksteady game.”
“Obviously resistance and reluctance exists at every level. There were fans who said: ‘They’re not Rocksteady, they can’t make an Arkham game.’ And there were concerns within the organisation that we weren’t going to be able to deliver the special sauce of a Rocksteady game.
“And there were concerns within our team, like – ‘Maybe we’ve bitten off more than we can chew? Are we sure we’re able to dance with these guys? Do we deserve to be in this same hallowed ground?’ – but we wouldn’t have continued through the years if we didn’t feel we had a shot. I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”
Initially, Mattes stated there was roughly “a 60-40 split of positivity to hesitation or maybe outright dismay” from Arkham fans. But after showing more of what Origins had to offer, fans began showing a more positive response.
“Y’know: ‘It’s not Rocksteady. It’s a prequel. It’s not the original voice actors. Forget it. Ignore. Never paying attention to it.’ But I think every subsequent piece of code we’ve shown has won over more and more of the public, to the point where it now stands out as an exception if we see someone who’s still towing that line of: ‘It’s not Rocksteady, it’s not going to be good.’ There’s only, like, one in a 1000 it seems now still playing that card.”
“You don’t want to be the guys who messed up and ran into the ground one of the absolute, top-rated franchises of all time. You don’t want that at the top of your CV. ‘Yeah, I’m the guy who turned a 96 into a 60, that’s my claim to fame.’ So I think there was an extra desire to create something really great as we were fully aware of the opportunity that we had.”
Mattes ultimately said “hesitation” might be a better label for the difficulties the team faced. Still, with the game out the door, he’s pleased with Origins’ end result.
“Usually you put on a happy face and say the right things because that’s where you are. But secretly you’re thinking, ‘God, if only they’d given us six more months.’ But, honestly, this game we’ve created is the game we set out to create. It is exactly the story we wanted to tell with exactly the areas of focus we aimed to do.
“And resistance… it was probably more hesitation than resistance. It was never: ‘Over my dead body are you guys making an Arkham game!’ It was always hedging bets, cautiously optimistic, a healthy amount of hesitation. And that’s the right attitude. I think everyone ought to have that attitude. If we’d come in saying: ‘Rock-who? Eff those guys man, we’ll show you how it’s done,’ we wouldn’t have gotten here.”