Why video game adaptations are finally leveling up

dr Matthew Harrison, a researcher in digital game-based learning at the University of Melbourne, said the film industry just didn’t see video games as a serious creative art form back then either.

“That was the perception of the film studios [game adaptations] were a quick way to use the name recognition of a popular children’s activity and get people to the movies with their parents without having to worry about things like plot development,” Harrison said.

What has changed over the past few decades is the tremendous growth of the video game industry, especially when compared to movies. Harrison said it’s now more or less accepted that video games are more profitable than movies, in part due to rising interest from an expanding middle class in Asia-Pacific.

In 1993, the global gaming industry was worth US$55.2 billion (adjusted for inflation). Until 2013, Grand Theft Auto V $1 billion worldwide in three days, making it the fastest-selling entertainment product at the time. It was a turning point for the industry, and things have only accelerated since then.

A recent PwC report found that global video gaming revenue grew 32 percent between 2019 and 2021, and the industry is expected to be worth $479.3 billion by 2026. This week Australian drinks retailer Endeavor Group invested $3 million in Sydney’s newest e-gaming hub , Fortress, showing just how mainstream the medium has become.

Mark Johnson, a researcher in digital cultures at the University of Sydney, said this growth has triggered a shift in cultural power between media.


“Instead of seeing movies as core media and games as adaptations, we’re now seeing the opposite,” he said. “There’s also a real difference in prestige as games based on movies and TV are usually still critically acclaimed and have very little impact on gaming… But TV and movies based on games are becoming more accepted. “

People also choose to watch other gamers on platforms like Twitch or YouTube to relax, which is almost like a halfway point between watching a movie and playing.

Last year, Twitch — a video game live streaming platform — gained 11 million new streamers and users watched 21 billion hours of content. YouTube gamers like Markiplier have over 30 million subscribers.

As CGI and visual effects improve, many video game developers are also focusing on richer narratives – something that lends itself well to movies.

What does all this mean for contemporary video game adaptations? Almost three decades after the first Super Mario Bros. movie, filmmakers are once again defying the world of video games – and they’re rising.

Detective Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds in a scene from Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.

Detective Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds in a scene from Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The 2019 release of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu – based on a niche spinoff game from the Pokemon Franchise – received a warmer reception from critics and grossed $634 million worldwide.

It became a worldwide hit largely thanks to its subtle interweaving of the film noir genre and the original video game universe. Toliopoulos said that unlike ’90s game adaptations, this film accurately interprets players’ relationships with the original game rather than taking unnecessary creative liberties.

sound the Hedgehogreleased in 2020, had similar success, grossing $449 million and garnering a whopping 94 percent viewership Rotten tomatoes. And Unknown, a 2022 game adaptation starring Tom Holland, grossed $592 million worldwide as gamers and non-gamers alike enjoyed its solid storyline.

Television is also benefiting from the game adaptation boom. those years The last of us is inspired by the survival horror game set in a zombie-infested apocalyptic future. According to HBO, just one episode drew an overnight audience of 6.4 million US viewers.

Video games have been such a boon to the film and television industry that developers are now borrowing from role-playing games as well dungeons and mobile games like Angry Birds. And with upcoming adjustments like Return to Silent Hill And Minecraft: The Movie On the horizon, audiences will be ready to determine if video games really are the new “boss.”

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Jaclyn Diaz

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