In 2005 I nearly sold my soul to the “Lego Star Wars” video game. That year over 30 million people fell victim to the seductive combination of Star Wars, building blocks, and electronics. This June, after the release of over 20 similar Lego games, consumers will have the chance to purchase “Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
This news pits the consumer’s nostalgia against reason. When I was 10, “Lego Star Wars” was a first-of-its-kind masterpiece. The first Lego adventure game was based on the three Star Wars prequels and preceded the release of “Revenge of the Sith.”
Nearly a decade later, I can see the same excitement in my younger siblings, but this new entry in the franchise aspires to expand on its predecessors while focusing on only one film. The new game promises levels from “The Force Awakens” and another section dedicated to the events between the new film and “Return of the Jedi.”
The Star Wars movies are serial films. This game may come too soon for a series that is structured in trilogies. Game developer Travelers’ Tales has made similar products for “Indiana Jones,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Lord of the Rings.” This game will be the first to be based on a single film.
The prospect of a new entry in a popular series is thrilling. It fails, however, to mask the creators’ obvious attempt to capitalize on the phenomenal success of “The Force Awakens.” Unless they plan to release updates until 2020, this new game will be part one of three titles, each retailing at $60 with extra content available for online purchase.
While in-game purchases are commonplace, this new chapter in “Lego Star Wars” has been blatantly split into physical parts for more profit. Hollywood’s love for dividing movies into “part 1” and “part 2” has found its way into children’s games. While this particular issue might not concern most college students, it is frustratingly popular in modern media. After the “Harry Potter” movies split the final book in two, “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Hobbit,” and “Divergent” each followed suit to varying degrees of success.
Buying entertainment shouldn’t be a down payment followed by several more investments. While paying for each installment of a game or film may offer instant satisfaction, it’s quite likely that in the end all the parts will be boxed together. The first two “Lego Star Wars” games were combined in 2008 for the price of one.
I’m not oblivious to the fact that the producers of these franchises want to make money. That is one of the purposes of the entertainment business. The people behind this divide-and-conquer approach to games and movies are smart and know how to increase their profits. They can release more “Lego Star Wars” games in 2018 and 2020, and fans are still going to fork over the money to have the full set.
Nevertheless, the principle of “less is more” must be considered for films and video games, particularly when a fan can edit together the three parts of “The Hobbit” and make a decent three-hour movie. Producers add filler material to these movies and games to give fans a bigger experience, but the saturated products waste consumers’ time and money. In the domestic box office “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” made just under $300 million, the fourth highest in the series, while the second part led the franchise with over $380 million. Fans skipped the rising action and only bought tickets for the climax.
Perhaps the greatest issue with releasing this game so early is that its story fails to offer the same satisfaction of its predecessors. The first two Star Wars trilogies were complete story arcs. This game, like the second-to-last Harry Potter and Hunger Games films, represents the rising action for a larger story. The movie was a complete narrative, but it will make for a subpar video game without episodes VIII and IX. The conclusion of the film left many questions to be answered by the sequels, with both heroes and villains gearing up for a war that won’t appear in theaters until 2019.
I’m excited and willing to pay $60 so my brothers can enjoy this game. It’s just frustrating to know that this time experiencing the full story requires purchasing another one. And another one.