Are video game adaptations the secret recipe for success for filmmakers?

Adaptations have been seen as a deep dive into the narrative and character arcs, providing an enriched storytelling experience. The adaptations explore the motivations, backgrounds, and relationships of characters, making them relatable and engaging

Saptak Bardhan
Updated On
New Update
Video games
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

New Delhi: Video games have shaped an entire generation of not only gamers but audiences in general, with game adaptations being actively watched, may it be movies or web series. The idea has slowly picked up steam as games have been brewing storylines that have been liked by audiences all around the globe.  

“Video game adaptations are a byproduct of digital content consumption. The movies are mostly targeted at youth. Additionally, the movies target the urban demographic—audiences who have the propensity to spend on digital consumable content as well as gaming. It is easy to pull audiences once the protagonist’s character is identified,” Girish Johar, a film business expert and producer, told 

Super Mario Bros. was the first game to have a film adaptation, following which there have been many releases, including Need for Speed, Mortal Kombat, Fallout, and Pacman, among others. 

“IP owners have realised that games are a fantastic medium to engage with their target audiences in a very experiential way. Almost all popular youth culture IPs are leveraging games as a way to enhance engagement. Given that high-end PCs and gaming consoles have become more commonplace, this is a natural next step in building a culture around IPs. This expansion encompasses movies, shows, merchandise, events, theme parks, and now games,” Siddharth Nayyar, co-founder and CRO, Max Level, stated. 

Experts believe that the filmmakers have tried to engage with the fan base of the video game industry. However, there has been poor execution in films such as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Prince of Persia and Michael Fassbender’s Assasin’s Creed. They further added that video games, much like movies, are immersive.  

Hollywood movies have established their niche despite having a 23% reduced revenue collection since 2022, according to a report by EY, due to the Screen Actor’s Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike having an impact on the releases of Hollywood movies.

“The characters of these games, like in Unchartered, who have a distinctive look and goal, tend to connect with the audience as they already have an association with the audience. Video games are also driven by conflicts, especially story-based ones. Web series like Last of Us, Mortal Kombat, and others have taken advantage of the developments in technology to bring the web series as close to the popular game, which is rich with drama, special effects, and emotions," said Rajat Agrawal, director and head of content at Ultra Media and Entertainment Group. 

Lately, game creators have been getting involved with movie makers, helping with writing and directing and creating authenticity for the game fans while also creating a detailed world for audiences that have not played the games. Experts opined that this has led to web series like The Last of Us, The Witcher, and Castlevania, among others, which was a result of the love for video games and the strength of the story told within the game. 

While there have been successful and unsuccessful video game adaptations, industry experts highlighted that visualisation, storylines, character arcs, and a connection between the game and its adaptation are crucial when it comes to the success of a video game adaptation. 

“Successful adaptations like The Last of Us and The Witcher manage to respect the source material and remain true to the game's core narrative and themes. They honour the original story, characters, and world, ensuring the adaptation feels both familiar and authentic to fans of the game. This respect builds trust and credibility with the audience, which is crucial for any adaptation,” Roby John, CEO and co-founder of SuperGaming, highlighted. 

Moreover, adaptations have been seen as a deep dive into the narrative and character arcs, providing an enriched storytelling experience. The adaptations explore the motivations, backgrounds, and relationships of characters, making them relatable and engaging. 

“The best of them succeed in creating an emotional connection with the audience, evoking the same feelings and experiences that players had while playing the game. This emotional engagement is key to drawing viewers into the story and making them care about the characters and outcomes,” John added. 

When asked whether video game adaptations are diluting creativity and original thought, experts stated that games do not hinder original thought or imagination but rather promote it. Game adaptations often serve as a bridge too, introducing unconventional stories to a broader audience who may not be gamers but can appreciate the depth and creativity involved.  

They further highlighted that Japanese games like Final Fantasy and Resident Evil have found new life and audiences through film and series adaptations, resonating with viewers worldwide. Similarly, Western games like The Witcher and Assassin's Creed have captivated global audiences, blending diverse storytelling traditions and visual styles.

“Whether it is playing a game, watching a movie or show based on it, or reading a book, these different mediums provide a more comprehensive story experience. Such multifaceted engagement enriches the overall narrative.

While games provide an interactive approach to a story when these IPs are adapted into a series or movie, they showcase a somewhat different portrayal while keeping the core of the story and characters intact, and that’s where the creativity of the filmmakers shines,” Nayyar stated.

One of the more unique appeals of video games is the personal journey players embark on as they navigate the protagonist's story. The interactivity of games allows players to immerse themselves in the narrative, make decisions, and experience the story at their own pace. Audiences are no longer participants in the story but mere spectators. For some fans, this shift can be disappointing because it strips away their personal connection with the character and the unfolding narrative, industry experts concluded.

video games