Why do so many license games suck?
Seems like there are a lot of games that take a license to use a good property, like a movie (for example: The Matrix or The Lord of the Rings or Dungeons & Dragons), what have you, that suck. But it could be that the projects from licenses don't get canceled as often if they don't meet the bar of non-suckiness. There are a lot of projects that get canceled. There are a lot of games that suck. There would be a lot more games that suck if projects didn't get cancelled probably -- although not all projects get canceled for this reason. Wish I knew how many did for this reason though.
It makes less sense to cancel a project from a well known license just because the game is turning out to be sucky. If you can finish it but it's pretty sucky as a game, you can still make money off of it because people are more likely to buy a game from a well known license. Seems like that could be a main driver of why so many games built off of licenses suck.
Also as an aside, when you do a license title it makes little sense to do something innovative in game design because you might screw the value-add of the license if the innovation is not easily recognizable as a marketable game (like if it's not in a known genre). If it's so innovative it could detract from the marketing of the license to sell the game and if the license isn't the key part of the game, why even have the license at that point (licenses can be costly to get)? Also the license holder is probably not thinking of having some innovative game for their property, they just want a regular game to give a boost the value of their property.
Plus, there is a high risk that the innovative stuff that you invest R&D on will fail to be compelling (you find that you can't build a cool innovative game for whatever reason); that risk is too unnecessarily high to the project have when you have the safety of the sure bet of a license to drive your game sales.