Dark Horse Games is the new gaming and digital entertainment division of famed comic book publisher Dark Horse Comics. The division will be responsible for bring the company’s large portfolio of comic book-based properties to video games.
Dark Horse Games intends to establish licensing partnerships with game developers to create games as well as develop its own in-house, first-party properties. Dark Horse Comics has a 35-year history of publishing world-famous worlds and characters such as Hellboy, Frank Miller’s Sin City, Umbrella Academy and Emily the Strange and is uniquely positioned with ready made IPs for games.
VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi, who broke the story on the new division, writes, “It’s a good time for the expansion, as gaming is hot, and in some cases, it’s generating more revenue for a given intellectual property than other forms of entertainment. As for Dark Horse Comics, 2020 was a good year for the company’s core comic and publishing business, with good revenue growth.”
“We have evergreen properties, like Hellboy, where there will always be interest in making games and doing collaborations,” said division head Johnny B. Lee. “We and our partners can really evaluate if a story IP and character universe would be a good fit for games that they’re internally designing and developing. I think most triple-A devs that I’ve talked to prefer their game dev team to build core gameplay and then fit an IP to it, versus shoving an IP down their throats. We’re sensitive to that.”
Meanwhile, the first-party in-house teams will turn their focus on cultivating older and less established IPs, and refresh them for mainstream relevance not just through games but in conjunction with various multimedia projects like webtoons and anime.
To date, Dark Horse Comics hasn’t had much involvement (or success) in games. While they provided the license for games like Hellboy: The Science of Evil, released in 2008 for the Xbox 360 and other platforms, in most cases movie studios hold the videogame rights for comic book properties adapted to film. Takahashi notes that the company is looking at lessons from companies like Marvel that have developed strong entertainment synergies.