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Plugged In

J.J. Abrams ‘emotionally hurt’ by Star Trek video game

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Not a prosperous relationship (Credit: Getty Images/Namco Bandai)

You don't have to look too far past the Metacritic scores to know that this year's Star Trek game was a disaster. Critics decimated it and gamers largely avoided it, shaking their heads sadly and moving on to the next game, never giving the messy movie tie-in a second thought.

For "Star Trek" movie director J.J. Abrams, though, it's a little harder to get over.

"[It] was obviously a big disappointment to me," Abrams told GamerHub. "We were actually involved from the very beginning and then we sort of realized that it was not going in a place where we were going to get what we wanted, so we dropped out and they continued to do it despite... y'know."

The early footage of Star Trek was actually pretty exciting. The game’s Kirk/Spock co-operative setup pleased fans, while the Gorn, re-imagined as terrifying dinosaur creatures, were intimidating enough to help the game earn five "Best of E3" awards in 2011 from organizations such as Official Xbox Magazine and Electric Playground.

From there, however, things got muddled.

The developer has said that heaping doses of film studio involvement in the ensuing months and years took a toll on the game, but Abrams pins the blame on Digital Extremes and Namco Bandai.

Abrams says he initially worked with the developer, but pulled out after deciding that the final product wasn’t going to be up to snuff. He even goes so far as to suggest that the game's negative reviews worked against the film, which did well at the box office, but not spectacularly.

"For me emotionally it hurt, 'cos we were working our asses off making the movie and then this game came out and it got, this isn't even my opinion, it got universally panned and I think that it was something without question that didn't help the movie and arguably hurt it," he says.

Abrams notes that the curse of video game tie-ins to films is a very real one.

"I think the thing that we all know, anyone who loves video games and loves movies… very, very rarely does a movie based on a game, or a game based on a movie, really work," he added. "It usually ends up being something that everyone who goes to see or goes to play feels like this was a marketing decision made by a room full of people who wanted to capitalize on a title. That's no way to make a game and no way to make a movie."

Abrams will be taking his own advice soon enough. In February, Abrams and Valve's Gabe Newell announced they were working together on Half-Life and Portal products, though they were deliberately vague as to whether these were games or movies. The two are also working together on a new, unannounced game.

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