Are We In The Era Of Video Game TV Adaptations?


Hollywood constantly needs to be reinvented to keep audiences curious, excited and wanting more. It prevents the public from being tired of pop culture content, so there must always be a new trend to keep things dynamic, going, and, most importantly: selling.

Now, Hollywood seems to have found its next cool thing to adapt. It seems the video game industry has taken the stage when it comes to screen adaptations. Are we entering the age of a game-based TV show frenzy? Let’s see what’s currently going on.

I adapting video games into movies a curse?

Tomb Raider Alicia Vikander

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Hollywood has tried adapting books, comics, plays, or animated movies to live-action movies. So why not try to adapt another new medium into live-action movies? It’s just too tempting: the video game medium. But remember the various video game adaptations? Assassin’s Creed, World of Warcraft, Tomb Raider, Uncharted… They all seem to bomb at the box office no matter how big the lead actor is. Why is that?

To me, it seems that the format is wrong and simply not fit to adapt video games, as video games almost always have very extended stories that simply cannot be translated into a 2-hour movie without losing massive parts of its universe. While a video game has the liberty of benefiting from countless hours of exploration, Hollywood is based on a 2-hour format, which stems from a need to fit in as many screenings as they can in cinemas on a daily basis. This is all in order to gross more profit. This in itself is a significant barrier to the quality of a video game adaptation: quick, easy money over quality and lore.

The only movies that succeeded at the task were Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and Sonic. What’s interesting about these two is that they kept the ‘video game aspect’ instead of going for a darker, more mature and realistic tone, as did the other versions mentioned above. On the contrary, they chose to stay close to the light-hearted tone and childhood-like feeling, which worked. I mean, we’re really about to get a third Sonic live-action film and a second Detective Pikachu movie. Isn’t that wild?

How about binge-watching video games now?

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If you haven’t heard of The Last of Us’ roaring success on HBO Max, then you must have been living in a cave. The show is pleasing gamers worldwide thanks to its respect and faithfulness to the two original PS4 games on which it’s based. It makes me sad that Netflix’s The Witcher didn’t get the same treatment, by the way. Only two episodes into its first season and the show was already renewed for a second, which was to be expected.

The other video game-based tv show that gathered positive attention in 2021 was Netflix’s Arcane, the League of Legends-based TV show. The show followed the story of sisters Jinx and VI, and it gathered a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 9.10/10. The show was renewed for a second season following its massive success and support from the fans.

While everyone’s attention is currently focused on The Last of Us, it really seems that we are about to step into a whole new world of game-based tv shows.

Expect a lot of video game TV shows in the coming years

God Of War video game

Credit: Sony

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The Last of Us and Arcane have proven that it’s possible to adapt video games into full-fleshed, big-budget TV shows rather than movies. Fewer and longer episodes, with a weekly release, so that people keep talking about it online every week for about ten weeks. Modern video games are becoming more and more similar to a cinematic experience, with always more complex stories, characters, and action sequences: everything is just there for studios to pick and adapt into a show.

You can now expect a whole lot of game-based tv shows! Here are some of the most awaited upcoming video game tv shows :

What do you think of this? Are you excited to see these video games adapted into TV shows, or are you worried? There’s always the potential to have a good series; Arcane and The Last Of Us have proven it. But the more projects there are, the higher the risk of failure.

What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcast, The Small Screen Podcast, wherever you get your podcasts!

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  1. wowvendor

    Absolutely, the intersection of video games and TV adaptations is an exciting trend. As a World of Warcraft player, I’m well aware of how captivating these virtual worlds can be. Speaking of adaptations, have you ever wondered about the in-game economy in WoW, particularly the dynamic world of wow gold? It’s a fascinating element that could make for some interesting TV storytelling!

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