Over the weekend 4:33 Creative Lab announced that it’d be bringing Ghostbusters World to mobile sometime later this year and whilst that’s pretty darn cool, it’s also curious.
One of the biggest questions I have is whether it’ll differ enough from top-runner in the AR world, Pokemon GO, to give players an awesome experience without treading on Niantic’s toes.
Because we love debating about these sorts of things, some of the Pocket Gamer staff have given their two-cents about the game and whether it’ll be a hit or a miss in their eyes.
Dave Aubrey (Guides Guru and Giver of Advice)
When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, it’s only natural to reach for your phone. Once upon a time you would call the emergency services or a licensed professional to deal with your problems, but now we have smartphone apps, so you can deal with these things yourself. The prospect of roaming my local area simultaneously protecting my street from supernatural apparitions and also adding to a menagerie of eternally tormented immortal souls is exactly what I’ve been waiting for, and not the kind of tormented souls that linger near the town centre, either.
Ghostbusters World seems like it has the potential to be loads of fun, though I have my doubts about its variety of spirits. Nevertheless, you’ll find me bustin on a street corner near you when this is available for download.
Dave Bradley (Almighty Overseer and Birthday Boy)
Ghostbusters is perfect for this type of game. I’m just not convinced the type of game is going to stay hot for long.
Ghostbusters has the concept “collecting creatures using technology” baked into its core concept. I can absolutely visualise how it’ll play. Sure, Ghostbusters’ gaming history has been a little patchy, but both the trailer and video preview are very, very cool. It’s a much-loved franchise that’s spent 30 years delighting audiences and I’m more excited about this than I was about having Harry Potter on my phone.
But, like it or not, Harry Potter is coming and I wouldn’t bet against that. Pokemon GO and Ingress were already there and are poised for a 2018 resurgence. There are numerous indie studios trying this sort of location-based collectible experience, inspired by those whoppers (I’m thinking Fightlings by Thoughtfish, Clandestine: Anomaly by ZenFri Inc, even Finland’s Fitness Village AR exercise game). With all this swimming around, we can’t all play everything: surely the bubble is going to burst on this gimmick before the end of the year?
Emily Sowden (News Lass and App Army Commander)
As much as I want to get excited about donning my tan jumpsuit and catching ghosts, I’m finding it hard to do so. I’m stoked to see other licenses hopping on the AR train, but I’m a little concerned that it’ll be more of what we’ve seen already re-skinned.
I mean, the major difference better Ghostbusters World and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is that Niantic’s got absolutely nothing to do with it, so it could surprise us, sure.
From the gameplay video we’ve seen at least there’s some form of combat involved – a point where the trap will be most effective – and it’d be pretty cool to actually have to fight your way out of a scrap. I can imagine jumping a mile if my phone suddenly goes off in my pocket because there’s a ghost wanting to play fisticuffs.
The other problem is that, aside from those who grew up with Ghostbusters on the TV, it’s not something a lot of gamers will be that bothered about. Pokemon is a huge franchise with hundreds of paths to tread and Harry Potter is also enormous and incredibly beloved across the world. In comparison to those two, Ghostbusters seems a little limited and bland, and I doubt there’s enough foundation there to create ‘the next big thing’.
Harry Slater (Master of Pugs, Reviews, and Grand Deputy)
I think it’s interesting that it’s been so long since Pokemon GO came out and only now we’re seeing other licenses (Ghostbusters and Harry Potter) trying to do something similar. I guess that begs two questions – is there really a market for this sort of game, and if there is, is there space for more than one on anyone’s phone?
It feels a bit like World of Warcraft, where Blizzard made a ton of money from an MMO, and all the MMOs that came out after it just couldn’t compete.
Plus, I can’t imagine people walking to point A to catch a Pokemon, point B to grab a golden snitch, and point C to bust a ghost. I might be wrong, I often am, and I’d love for the game to be amazing since I grew up with Ghostbusters (and loved the reboot). I just think the market has already been cornered.
James Gilmour (Video and Podcasting Wizard)
I don’t see it.
Ghostbusters is an ageing property, an icon franchise that is beloved by 30-somethings, but has failed to weave itself into the pop culture fabric which wraps young, modern audiences.
There’s no cartoon series running at the moment. The 2017 movie, which was supposed to be the nuclear whirr which reignited the series’ proton pack was a misfire, scuppering the chances of a sequel and leaving Sony’s GhostCorps division, which was created specifically to manage all things Ghostbusters, just a bunch of empty offices.
The Pokemon Go-style AR format is an ideal fit for the ghost catching mechanic, and I will download this on day one because I’m old enough to have grown up with and embrace the original movies. But do today’s kids, the target audience for this game, care about Ghostbusters? Will they put down Harry Potter Wizards Unite or Pokemon Go, series which span book and countless games which are already firmly embedded in the hearts of kids of all ages, to play with their parent’s toys? I’m not so sure.
Ric Cowley (Pocket Gamer’s New Overlord)
Ghostbusters has had a bit of a rough ride as a franchise over the last decade – and let’s be honest, it’s never quite managed to hit the heights of the original film, and that came out over 30 years ago.
There’s been some attempts at bustin’-focused mobile games in the past, but they’ve not exactly been memorable. The last big Ghostbusters game on the platform will likely go down in history for its hyper-sexualised characters that were eventually cut out, rather than its quality as a game.
But a Pokemon GO-esque experience might actually work. Giving players the chance to directly capture ghosts is definitely a smart move, and seeing ghosts wandering about your own neighbourhood is going to get the nostalgia flowing.
That said, Ghostbusters World is almost definitely going to get trampled by the onslaught of similar games which will no doubt launch this year – Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the Ingress reboot, whatever Finnish developer Shipyard Games is working on, etc. etc.
Devs who started on their location-based projects after Pokemon GO launched are finally getting ready to release, and I’m not sure the Ghostbusters IP is strong enough to withstand the flood.
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