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Published on February 24th, 2012 | by Andrew Reynolds

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games Crash

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games has crashed.

It has failed to load, lagged, suffered from massive frame drops  and finally been given the red ring of death by the BBC who have announced they’re to shelve the gaming series to concentrate on other Doctor Who gaming projects.

The Vashta Nerada featured in the third Doctor Who: The Adventure Games installment

Sounding a lot like a distracted gamer attempting to play and maintain a tenuous: ‘Yeah, I’m listening’ grip on reality Executive Producer Simon Harris has promised that there will be other Doctor Who gaming adventures, just not right now, maybe later – okay?

 “Obviously we’ve got the browser-based MMO Doctor Who: Worlds In Time, we have other plans for other platforms and formats and we’ll be announcing those.

“But right now The Adventure Games have done a great job, and they’ve been done, we’re now going to move forward with the The Eternity Clock and we’ll continue to develop those plans as we go ahead.”

Worried that this might mean the end of public service content from the Beeb? Concerned that the Adventure Games – who villains have included Daleks, Cybermen, Vashta Nerada and Sontarans – were nothing more than the BBC testing the market for a ‘proper’ Doctor Who game? This probably won’t help matters:

There’s a question about now BBC Worldwide is focusing and investing in these developments, that providing audience expansion and providing something that’s going to hopefully broaden the Doctor Who audience.

“That’s something we’re going to pick up on in gaming for the foreseeable future, and the team down in Cardiff are going to concentrate on some other things – which I’ve seen some of their ideas they haven’t announced yet – but there is going to be some cool things around that to continue developing what they do around public service, around audience expansion for the UK licence payers.”

Why after the success of The Adventure Games are the BBC still insisting that gamers and Doctor Who fans (i.e the UK licence payer) are two mutually exclusive entities?

The biggest potential market isn’t those people who have never heard of Doctor Who but those who want to play a good game. It is Doctor Who fans who want to see a great game that matches their expectations of what could be achieved within this medium.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

Cybermen in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

Conversely, the market for non-gaming Doctor Who fans isn’t likely to buy a console  (if that’s what ‘format and platforms’ infers) just because there’s a game of their favourite show for it. Who brought a Wii just for Return to Earth?

Sure, the gaming world isn’t limited to just consoles and BBC Worldwide have a remit to explore such ventures like online and mobile games for economic viability but this is surely a publishing exclusivity issue, rather than one of development.

So instead of calling The Adventure Games an experiment and naturally dovetailing it as part of an ongoing exploration of the gaming market – the Beeb have canned it only a few months after announcing a second series of games kicking off with The Gunpowder Plot.

It hardly screams confidence in developing that side of their gaming expansion plans. If anything, it feels like the license payer is being pushed into a niche that they just don’t belong in. Again gamers and licence payers are not mutually exclusive.

It seems like the idea of developing a really good Doctor Who game has gotten lost in the idea of just developing games.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock which offers continuous play between PS3, PlayStation Vita and DLC, is available next month.



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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

12 Responses to Doctor Who: The Adventure Games Crash

  1. avatar Philip Bates says:

    Though I’ve only had time to play a bit of the first Adventure Game, this is terrible news (but a great article). I plan to download them all, because the quality looked fantastic. I suppose it was always going to go this way, though. Massive shame.

    I can’t even play The Eternity Clock, as I’ve only got a Wii. And Return to Earth can be a bit annoying…

  2. avatar SuperJohn says:

    Game develeopment is expensive.
    BBC are cutting costs.
    BBC make no money from Adventure Games.
    BBC cut Adventure Games.

    Not super-hard to understand, and not really worth railing against…

    • Sorry SuperJohn, but you’re wrong on all points.

      The most important is that the BBC does make money from DW:TAG by selling it overseas.

      Also each game is based on the same engine and features many of the same textures and puzzles. There is therefore little in the way of development required for any of the games since the original, other than adding new villain characters. Given the initial investment, one would think they would use the engine for as long as possible, rather than cast it aside.

      Incidentally, DW:TAG is a BBC Worldwide project, and the majority of BBC cost cutting is in broadcasting and management.

  3. avatar Paul Hobbs says:

    I keep looking at the Lego games, and think its an excellent fit for Doctor Who. You have the variety of characters, storylines, and music that the Lego games format uses. Come on BBC, get together with Ty games and make it happen.

    • avatar gavinio says:

      It won’t happen until Doctor Who really takes off on a global basis – that means big viewing figures in America, Japan etc for it to be a worthwhile licence buy – first of all for Lego and then to develop as a game.

      No one is going to spend big money on developing a multi-platform Lego game unless they know they know they are going to get their money back. At the moment Who is simply not big enough globally unlike other Lego games such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, HArry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean.

      One of the ways this could be changed though is a Who movie happens – that would be the perfect time for such a game to tie in with its release.

      • avatar SuperJohn says:

        Yeah, I’ve asked Lego a couple of times to do Who (through work as a buyer, not just as a random ringing up!!!) and they ain’t interested as it ‘doesn’t have the same blobal presence as their other properties’.

        • avatar SuperJohn says:

          Global, even.

  4. avatar SuperJohn says:

    Game development IS expensive. New models, new scripts, new voice and sound recordings, new animations, new marketing, etc. Even with reuse of textures, each game WILL cost a lot. You cannot disagree here if you know anything about creating videogames.

    I’m guessing someone has done a P&L and seen that DWTAG doesn’t wash its face, and canned it rather than continue with an unprofitable or low-profit enterprise. Either that, or there is a non-competition clause they must adhere to to allow the newest console games to be launched unchallenged by free ‘alternatives’.

    • SuperJohn: it would be preferable if you could read the previous response before replying.

      No one said developing games isn’t expensive. What I said was that the initial development has been done. I do know a thing or two about game development, and I agree there is expense with any sequential releases. However, there doesn’t have to be a considerable amount. With Daleks and Cybermen already created, those monsters could easily be revisited.

      The point of the post is to opine the passing of a useful diversion, a Doctor Who gaming series that while not groundbreaking at least helped to cast aside the memory of Destiny of the Doctors.

      It seems you’re misreading this as some sort of campaign to have DW:TAG reinstated, which isn’t the case at all. It would be nice to have some clarity on the matter from BBCWW, however.

      • avatar SuperJohn says:

        That’s pretty rude to a patron of your site, Christian. I don’t appreciate being addressed in that way. I did read your point and I’m not mis-reading anything. You said I was wrong on all my points. My first point was that game development is expensive. You then say ‘No one said developing games isn’t expensive’… whaaat? Suggest you need to practice what you preach and read posts carefully! My first post was intended flippantly, yet you’ve taken it as an attack on your site. Suggest also a chill pill or two! I’m not after a war, just a healthy debate.

        Even if they can package and resell TAG, what is the overall profitablity of the enterprise? I’m guessing low or it wouldn’t be canned. BBCW are a commercial arm. If they make more licensing out than doing it themselves, they will. No conspiracy or pre-decision on the part of consumers. It’s a commercial decision by a commercial entity. That was my point, which I think is rleevant to the discussion sparked by the article.

        • Hi SuperJohn

          Clearly we’re at cross purposes and I certainly didn’t take anything as an attack. I’ll put my glasses back on and re-read :)

          • avatar SuperJohn says:

            Haha, epic. Fwiends?

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