Warner Bros. wants to reinvent the movie-based video game

It's no surprise that Warner Bros. has video games with "Batman" and "Middle Earth" in the titles coming out this year, since "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Hobbit" are the studio's two biggest remaining movie releases of 2012.

What is surprising is that the games have virtually nothing to do with the films beyond their titles.

Stung by poor sales across the industry for video games closely tied to movies -- including Warner's own "Green Lantern" and "Happy Feet Two" last year -- Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is this year taking an entirely different approach.

"Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" will be released June 19, a month ahead of "The Dark Knight Rises." Unlike the conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's dark trilogy, however, "Lego Batman 2" is a lighthearted game featuring Batman, his allies and villains, and other superheroes made out of Lego blocks.

"Guardians of Middle-Earth" will launch this fall, in advance of the Dec. 14 theatrical debut of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," but it has no connection to the story of Peter Jackson's film. It's an online combat game similar to the popular "League of Legends" that features characters from "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

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-- Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times

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