The relationship between television and video games has never been all that harmonious. As in the movie world, many an ill-conceived crossover has been spawned over the years, among a handful of successful releases.
Why the crossover isn’t as successful as in other industry sectors is a mystery. Characters in games are often every bit as influential and popular as in television and cinema, and whilst the narratives of many games aren’t quite as rich as is necessary elsewhere, there should often be enough for producers to work with.
The latest high-profile game to have been immortalized on Netflix is “Hitman,” a multi-platform shoot-em-up game that has achieved huge commercial success and critical acclaim. The “Hitman” series was kicked off nearly 20 years ago in 2000 in the form of the PC game “Hitman: Codename 47,” which landed to rave reviews. Since then it has been success after success, with 10 further games released across PC and consoles, and featuring as one of the five-reel, three-line slot games online at Games William Hill.
The film, originally released in 2015, stars “Homeland” star Rupert Friend as the protagonist. It’s fair to say it didn’t receive the same reception as the games, with a lukewarm IMDB rating of 5.7. Indeed, it represented the latest of a long line of game-inspired movies that did not live up to their billing.
“Grand Theft Auto”
But which games would be more at home on the small screen, and which would be well served by the high-budget, long-form styling of a Netflix original television series? These titles would need engaging characters, rich back stories, and enough substance to last a binge-worthy series of 6 to 15 episodes at a time – there’s little wonder games titles are rarely a television success.
One title that would suit Netflix’s unique and gritty delivery is “Grand Theft Auto,” a Rockstar Games franchise and one of the most popular game series in history. Blessed with interesting characters such as Trevor Philips and Tommy Vercetti, the game takes place between the lines of the murky world of low-level organized crime, providing producers with enough storyline ammunition to last a number of series.
Given that many of Netflix’s most popular titles including “Breaking Bad” prequel series “Better Call Saul” and “Luke Cage” operate in this world, it seems that “Grand Theft Auto” would be a good and easy fit. It was believable enough for AMC to produce a frankly bizarre April Fool’s Day trailer suggesting the release of a GTA TV series, prompting much excitement on social media.
Another games series that taps into themes currently popular in streaming circles is “Zelda,” a dystopian fantasy series spanning over two decades. Not overwhelming in terms of a rich and interesting plot, the title character is surely iconic enough to hold the attention of an audience across an entire series and, with its basis steeped in fantasy, it might just tap into themes enjoyed in titles such as “Game Of Thrones” and “Sense8.”
The fact remains, however, that game-based titles continue to disappoint on television and cinema screens. The pressure of satisfying the games industry’s passionate fans is huge and, with so many titles having failed, attracting big names and sought-after directors is a difficult task. With the “Tomb Raider” reboot arriving soon to high expectations, it will be interesting to see how it is received.