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Opinion: Why Are Gamers Not Overwhelmingly Positive About Live Adaptation Of Video Games?

Opinion: Why Are Gamers Not Overwhelmingly Positive About Live Adaptation Of Video Games?

Video game retailer, GAME, recently surveyed 650 clients to know what they think about live adaptation of video games into movies or series. The result clearly showed that not many gamers are fans of making live adaptations of video games.

Opinion: Why Are Gamers Not Overwhelmingly Positive About Live Adaptation Of Video Games?

According to the participants, the first two Tomb Raider movies were the best live adaptations of a video game. The Tomb Raider movie scored 52% of votes. Last year nominee at The Game Awards Gran Turismo only got 14% of votes.

Interestingly, the voters highly anticipate a live adaptation of Red Dead Redemption into a movie or series. At least 41% of the poll participants voted in favor of making a live adaptation of the Western-themed game.

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Other games that the participants rated highly in terms of having them made into a movie or series are Mass Effect (38%), Horizon (33%), and The Elder Scrolls (29%). Most voters believed that a live adaptation of FIFA would be a disaster. Only 2% of participants voted in favor of making the sports sim into a movie or series.

According to the survey, the most eagerly anticipated live adaptation of a video game is Fallout with 49% of the votes. Coming in the second and third positions are BioShock and God of War. Back in May 2022, former Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan confirmed that a live adaptation of God of War was in development and will be released on Amazon Prime Video.

Finally, out of all the live adaptations of video games into series, The Last of Us emerged as the winner with 42% of votes. The fact that the games that won in most of the categories received less than 50% of votes saliently shows that most gamers are not fans of turning their favorite games into movies or series.

Well, it is easy to argue that this is far from a representative poll. Firstly, it only included a very small group of participants. Also, it was conducted in just one country which is far from representative of the entire community of gamers around the globe—which according to statistics is 3.2 billion.

Recent live adaptations of video games have been a commercial success

Opinion: Why Are Gamers Not Overwhelmingly Positive About Live Adaptation Of Video Games?

I get it, in the past a lot of live adaptations of video games flopped—and that can make anyone who experienced those bad adaptations cringe. Talk about the 1994 Street Fighter adaptation. It was poorly received, getting a 34% average score on Metacritic and 11% on Rotten Tomatoes.

A lot has changed since that release. In fact, 2023 gave us a handful of live adaptations of video games into movies and series that turned out to be great hits. As of January 14, 2024, The Super Mario Bros. Movie had grossed over $1.36 billion globally. After the first week of release, it became the highest-grossing video game movie adaptation.

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The Last of Us was also adapted into a series by HBO in 2023. The show averaged 32 million viewers per episode. The series crossed the $1 billion mark in May. While 2023 saw great live adaptations of video games, not all of them were successful.

Peacock’s adaptation of Twisted Metal into a series didn’t get a stellar review. On Metacritic, the series scored an average of 55. Apparently, not only gamers are skeptical about having their favorite games made into a movie.

During the Q1, 2024 earnings report, Take-Two Interactive boss Strauss Zelnick mentioned that the company was skeptical about adapting their popular franchises into a movie or TV series because of the high risk involved. The company has already licensed two of its IPs to be adapted into movies namely Borderlands and BioShock.

“It’s a really hard business,” Zelnick said during the earnings call. “We’re not going to bet this company’s future or the value of our intellectual property based on someone else’s execution on another area of the entertainment business.”

“So, we’ll continue to be very selective indeed. Even if we did take a broad-based approach, in the absence of investing ourselves, the economic opportunity in the context of the much greater economic opportunity for our core business, is limited.”

Live adaptation of video games can be a goldmine

Opinion: Why Are Gamers Not Overwhelmingly Positive About Live Adaptation Of Video Games?

While the population of video gamers around the globe is staggering, there are still cinema fans who have never held a pad but enjoy watching video game clips and somehow wish that the stories they watch will be adapted into cinema, the form of entertainment they love and enjoy.

This population (although there are no statistics that estimate their size) are those who usually fancy live adaptation of video games. They are the goldmine that can propel live action adaptation into a critical acclaim—when done right.

The problem with adapting video game stories for cinema audiences is that not everyone knows how to do it properly. There is a clear difference between what video gamers want and what cinema-goers want. Understanding the nuances and accounting for them is the secret between a successful live action adaptation of a video game and one that flops.

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While gamers are more particular about gameplay (and can easily forgive other aspects of the game if the gameplay is phenomenal), cinema-goers focus more on the depth of the story. Video game adaptations mostly fail when the producers and directors try to directly translate the video game story into a movie or series.

Successful adaptations mostly modify the script to accommodate the tastes of cinema audiences. For example, The Super Mario Bros. Movie brought several Nintendo franchises together to create the masterpiece rather than just adapting the Super Mario Bros game alone.

Likewise, there are scenes in The Last of Us series that were not in the game. The most prominent one was the scene that showed how Ellie became immune to the cordyceps, something that wasn’t included in the game—and not many gamers cared or even asked. However, cinema-goers would have criticized the series if it was left out.

Finally, not every video game is suitable for adaptation into movies or series simply because most video game stories will likely not appeal to cinema audiences unless their scripts are significantly rewritten which can make them become something else rather than the game that is being adapted.