Image: Dead End Thrills
With the release of Blade Runner 2049, interest in Westwood’s Blade Runner adventure game has piqued. And that’s also led people to ask: why hasn’t there been another Blade Runner remake?
The answer can be broken down into three parts, all of which Dead End Thrills touches on in a profile into the 1997 cop adventure. The profile is actually a combination of two pieces, coupled with some production renders of the game that were found in the garage of David Austin, a 3D artist who worked on Blade Runner.
Blade Runner 2049 has made the game timely once more, and so is the words of Westwood co-founder Louis Castle. According to him, Blade Runner turned over a surprisingly small profit, due to the commercial arrangement at the time:
“The mere fact it was four CDs made it a very expensive game. And the deal we had with the Blade Runner Partnership meant it was not terribly profitable,” Castle told Dead End Thrills.
“You’re not going to succeed unless you do it extraordinarily well, and that won’t happen without an extraordinarily good team with an extraordinary amount of money. And then you have a partnership that demands a giant chunk because it’s not their job to take risks. Put that in a recipe and bake it and you don’t end up with cake.”
The other parts come down to money and lost assets. Gearbox did the math on a Blade Runner game almost a decade ago and calculated that it would have cost them around far too much for the expected sales at the time. (In 2009, Randy Pitchford said it would have been about $US25 million, but Pitchford was quoted in reports a few years later saying the estimated cost was around $US40 million.)
On top of that, any new developer would have to rebuild everything from the ground up. The assets used for Blade Runner were stored on magnetic platters, many of which went missing after EA liquidated Westwood 14 years ago. It would cost a mint to remake them all, destroying the financial logic behind any attempted remaster.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some mobile spin-off games in the future. But the genius of Westwood’s adventure will stand alone for now – although given the reception to Blade Runner 2049, it’s hard to imagine Hollywood wouldn’t try to have another crack at some point in the future.