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The rise of the video game to TV show craze

Many video games have earned praise lately for pushing the boundaries of storytelling like no other medium.

On the silver screen and the small screen alike, games make for a great source material for compelling storytelling, with supporting characters that defy traditional norms and creative directions that dare take risks. What gamers have known all along, producers and directors are slowly catching up on. The number of video game adaptations is spiking, with several productions breaking viewership records left and right. So, what’s next in store for this burgeoning genre? Let’s find out. 

The not-so-convincing beginnings of video game adaptations 

Undeniably, some of the most atrocious movies of the past decades were video game adaptations. With the odd exception of semi-decent productions like Silent Hill, most attempts at translating a game on the silver screen were half cash-grabby, half-unwatchable. Movies like Street Fighter and The Super Mario Bros were too goofy to be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, wannabe franchises like Prince of Persia bombed from the onset. The genre didn’t fare much better on TV, with shows like Mortal Kombat: Legacy essentially flopping or fading into oblivion after a couple of seasons. It seemed that faithful adaptations were an unrealistic aspiration or a collective delusion until the tables finally turned. 

A new era for video game adaptations 

The 2020s were arguably a tipping point for video game adaptations. At that time, the trailer for an upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie caused massive backlash among the fandom. The negative responses were so intense they forced the studio to redesign their titular character. Listening to fans paid off for Sega, as this campy video-game adventure became a box-office hit. The roaring success of The Super Mario Bros. Movie cemented the renaissance of the genre, which had already perked up on TV with the critical and commercial triumph of adaptations like The Witcher and Arcane on Netflix.

The latter snatched multiple accolades, including several Emmy Awards. Yet, its most remarkable feat was probably in swaying the notoriously exigent fans of League of Legends while reaching the masses. Other adaptations were so well received they revived their source material, such as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners skewing gamers’ perception of Cyberpunk 2077 in a more favourable direction. 

Clouds on the horizon 

2023 saw the release of dozens of video game adaptations. However, production companies jumping aboard the hype train sparked an increasing shift in perception among die-hard gamers – and an ever-deepening gap between fans and critics. Despite audience scores peaking, HBO’s The Last of Us left many fans of the original game indifferent or unsatisfied.

While such dissensions were always bound to emerge since no adaptation can please everyone, other decisions were met with sheer hostility in gaming circles. Following the sacking of Henry Cavill, many fans were vocal about their decision to boycott The Witcher. As a result, the show suffered a 30% drop in viewership from season 2 to season 3, highlighting the difficulty of keeping fans engaged – or perhaps the need to account for the feedback of disgruntled audiences a little more. 

A soaring number of video game adaptations 

From a God of War TV series to a Minecraft movie, the number of game adaptations slated for release in the coming years is staggering. Even indie hits are getting on the radar of Hollywood producers, with gems like Dredge getting their own feature films. The recent success of the Fallout adaptation on Prime Video further demonstrated the profitability of the genre and its artistic merit when respectful of the lore being adapted on-screen. This upward trend also cemented video games as an inspiration for cross-medium enterprises.

Gaming is now the dominating force in the entertainment landscape, converting popular series into books and animated spin-offs. Even iGaming got the memo, developing machine slots based on gaming icons like Lara Croft and Super Mario. Gamers can find games like Microgaming’s Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs online. They may also access real money slots with just a click. Trusted casinos operate under strict regulations, providing a safe environment for both experienced players and newcomers. Their offer extends to mobile-friendly options fit for playing on the go. Online platforms boast a wealth of juicy rewards programs and slots bonuses, to boot. 

The future of video game adaptations is bright, and the days of mediocre productions seem long gone. That said, the industry must still find the right balance between appealing to non-gamers and winning support among long-time fans.

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