Oh god. A Malazan game?
Please, no. Just no.
Some things should just be kept to books. Some can work as films or shows, but there are not very many books I can think of that are worth turning into a game. A book is a narrative experience. A game is, by nature, an interactive experience in which while narrative can and should be a key and important feature, shoehorning a book into game format just doesn't seem much like a good idea unless you remove the plot of the game enough from the source material that there's not much point in adapting the book into a game in the first place. And particularly Malazan which was the literary equivalent of a total clusterfuck in book format from the start (occasionally surfacing to coherency for a few chapters or occasionally even an entire book or so, just enough to keep the damn thing readable). Adapting that stuff into a game just doesn't seem like it would work. And how the sweet fuck would one adapt the magic system into that book into something remotely playable?
Fantasy games should be original. We've done pretty well with that so far.
I generally agree with you, but of all the current major fantasy series, I'd say Malazan was easily the best fit for an RPG in the style of Baldur's Gate
. The whole series is, after all, a high-level homebrew D&D game played out in novel form across multiple continents with hundreds of characters. It would be an easy thing to strip away the standard RPG races and classes and replace them with Malazan-specific variants, then start the protagonist as a lowly squad member in some far-flung corner of the Malazan Empire during the events of the series. Once you introduce warrens into the mix you can even justify having the protagonist flitting in and out of events depicted in the novels. Even the magic system, while unusual and perhaps tricky to adapt at first, would lend itself to some new and potentially interesting system design outside of the standard Vancian/mana-based approach.
For me, Malazan is not so much character or even plot-driven as it is world-driven. I read it because of the setting and Erikson's febrile imagination; stuff that translates perfectly well to game form and would give a Malazan title a massive advantage over the tepid worldbuilding efforts of even companies like Bioware. The complex storytelling of the novels could easily be ignored or strategically touched upon to enhance the protagonist's own story.
With series that are very character-driven, I agree that it is very difficult to separate the game enough from the source material/central narrative to make it worthwhile licensing as a setting. It's the old Dragonlance versus Forgotten Realms dichotomy; outside of the story of the Heroes of the Lance, the former has very little to offer while the latter is, by virtue of being a complete clusterfuck, a wonderful place to set a game in.
(I know Erikson has criticised the Forgotten Realms in the past. I always found that somewhat ironic in the circumstances.)
But I think I've derailed my own thread long enough...