Batman Is Finally Getting a New Arkham Game, But Not the One You Expected

An unexpected return to Gotham.

Batman: Arkham Shadow
Warner Bros Games

Nine years after the release of Batman: Arkham Knight we’re finally getting a new entry in the beloved Arkham-verse, but it’s likely not quite what fans were expecting. Batman: Arkham Shadow is a new VR title from Camouflaj (Iron Man VR), and it’s coming exclusively to Meta Quest 3 later in 2024. That’s right, it’s a VR game. While the developer has a proven track record to be excited about, a Meta Quest 3 exclusive isn’t the form most people thought a series comeback would take, and many likely won’t even be able to play Arkham Shadow because of not owning the hardware. After the debacle that was Suicide Squad earlier this year, it raises questions about what the future of the Arkham games looks like.

Arkham Shadow is going to be fighting an uphill battle when it releases, for a multitude of reasons. For one, this isn’t the Arkham game many were expecting, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the next entry being on a VR platform, it’s easy to see how that won’t appeal to a wide base of players.

For example, look at the game’s announcement on The Game Awards’ X (formerly Twitter) account. The comments are filled with users saying they won’t play it or they’re disappointed, and that can be found on multiple other threads of the announcement. It’s a shame because Camouflaj is a talented developer that could be developing something incredible, but Arkham Shadow is going to be colored by players’ current lack of faith in the series.

If there was the promise of a new full-fledged Arkham game on the horizon, Arkham Shadow likely wouldn’t be drawing this kind of response. Then there’s the elephant in the room — Suicide Squad, from earlier this year. Despite being a very different game, Suicide Squad does take place within the Arkham-verse, and has drawn a lot of criticism from players on how it handled its hero characters, including Batman.

Suicide Squad was met with middling reviews from both critics and players, and clearly hasn’t performed like Warner Bros. was hoping, with the studio saying the game “‘Has Fallen Short of Our Expectations.” Despite that fact, last March, WB announced it plans to double down on live service games. That creates even less hope for a new single-player Arkham game, with the series instead relegated to spinoff projects, like Arkham Shadow. Again, the existence of spinoff games is great, especially if Arkham Shadow can bring a unique VR perspective to the series' detective gameplay. But the absence of a big new mainline Arkham entry is inevitably going to be seen as a negative by the droves of fans who want it.

Suicide Squad’s story choices and underperforming sales have raised some obvious questions about where the DC games universe goes next.

Warner Bros.

Even outside of all this, Arkham Shadow faces consumers’ dwindling interest in VR as a whole. In December 2023, Circana reported that sales of VR headsets and AR glasses had plummeted by nearly 40 percent last year. The market seemingly continues to decline despite the obscene amount of money Meta continues to pump into the industry.

Meta has heavily invested in unique VR experiences, including last year’s well-received Assassin’s Creed Nexus, but I worry that it won’t be enough. VR simply hasn’t hit the mainstream zeitgeist like many thought it would, and I only hope that Arkham Shadow can find its audience. At the same time, there are likely going to be unfair expectations placed on it. Does the future of Arkham now hinge on this game’s success? This is a question people are going to ask, as WB is cagey on the future of the franchise. We have no idea what Rocksteady is working on outside of updates for Suicide Squad, and considering that game was reportedly in development for nearly seven years, it’s hard to imagine anything else coming out anytime soon.

There are few fictional characters as well known as Batman, and the Arkham games built up a legacy of being some of the greatest comic book adaptions ever seen. There are very few properties that are guaranteed to get as much attention as something like Batman, and it’s utterly baffling that it took nine years to get another big game with the Caped Crusader. Seeing the announcement of an ambitious new Batman VR game should have fans excited, not ruminating on what could have been.

Warner Bros. continues to make baffling choices in the video game space, and hopefully, Arkham Shadow can find its footing and success, regardless of the state of the series.

Batman: Arkham Shadow releases on Meta Quest 3 in 2024.

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