Just How Well Did TRON 2.0 Do, Anyway?

Over on TRON-Sector, I saw a news item for an interview with Landry Walker and Eric Jones about the upcoming TRON comic. Landry is the writer on the comic.

I made mental notes on a couple of interesting points I wanted to comment on, as I read through the interview. Here they are.

First off, the article author makes the statement: "Tron recently resurfaced as the Tron 2.0 video game available for X-Box and PC to unexpected success."

Really? That's news to me. As much as I wish it was true, this sounds like typical marketing speak in denial mode, that was fed to the author. That statement is, unfortunately, not true. Or else, we would already have had an expansion or new TRON game, a long time ago. And the comic wouldn't have gone through development hell for so long.

But then . . . we have to consider the difference between what you and I, and Disney, consider a "success". Unfortunately, I don't have exact sales figures for TRON 2.0 on the PC. Disney has chosen to keep that to themselves. My best guess is that it was a "moderate" success and sold around 100,000 copies at most. Which to some game publishers, would be great numbers. The game Painkiller sold about that many copies, and the publisher deemed that a success. Then an expansion pack was developed and released. Meanwhile, to Disney those numbers were a "failure". They probably expected to sell at least 500,000 copies.

Again, I don't know exactly how well it sold. I wish I did. But obviously Disney dropped TRON like a hot potato for a while, because the numbers from the game weren't "good enough". As someone wrote in a comment in the TRON 2.0 Petition, Disney/BVG didn't have the balls to stick by their product and see it through the rough times. The comic has been their boldest move in the last two years, if you don't count Kingdom Hearts 2.

Landry, at one point, says: "When the game Tron 2.0 came out, there was a bit of an outcry. Where was the MCP? Why had it not reappeared? There seems to be a desire in the entertainment industry to demand repetition."

Landry has also told me the same thing, in discussions on the TRON-Sector message boards. Apparently, people at comic conventions told him they were disappointed that the characters in TRON 2.0 didn't look "enough" like their original counterparts in the film. So, in other words, they were expecting "TRON the movie" as a game. Not an updated version. I suppose the misleading "sneak peek" ad on the TRON 20th Anniversary DVD didn't help. It was ambiguous, and probably lead other people into thinking there was going to be a film sequel. Not a game.

Therefore, people were left thinking: "Oh, it's not a movie and it's not even like the original film, so forget it." So it would seem, anyway. Which really surprises me. I thought the whole point about TRON, why it resonated so much with certain people, is precisely because it was bold and different.

And there's a difference between doing a respectful update to the original, or doing a cash-in. To me, TRON 2.0 for PC and Mac were respectful of the film at all times. The characters -- while certainly different -- still echoed their predecessors' appearances closely. The game levels -- while updated with new concepts and more detailed in appearance -- still retained the classic, neon glow you would expect. The music -- while in large part not Wendy Carlos' score -- fits perfectly for a TRON world. It was a bold update to TRON, but Monolith balanced the fine line between homage and new styling extremely well. How anyone could not be happy with the way the game turned out . . . you've got me.

On the other hand, what was done to TRON 2.0: Killer App on the Xbox in Multiplayer, is a perfect example of Disney/BVG trying to cash-in: with no regard for the subject matter at all. The Doom/Halo style helmets and grunge band style music from Breaking Benjamin, absolutely did not fit with TRON at all. BVG execs must have sat up really late at night, thinking up these wonderful ideas that didn't even come close to being respectful of the property. Rather, they simply had dollar signs in their eyes. If it's like Halo, it will sell!

Well, guess what . . . it didn't.

Thankfully, I have every confidence in Landry and the team at SLG working on the new comic. Which should be coming out in April. The interviews I've read, and discussions I've had, demonstrate to me that they are being completely respectful to TRON. Though again, there will be updates and changes from what went on in the film.

Let's just hope this time, for TRON's sake, the comic is a "big" success. Or else Disney will drop the potato again.