Report: Video Game Adaptations Increased by Nearly 50% in 2022, Audience Approval Ratings Rise As Well
Warner Bros. Discovery executives are probably wishing that every new TV series they produced had the success of “The Last of Us.” The show added viewers every single week of its first season on HBO and HBO Max, with the last episode drawing the eyes of 8.2 million people across platforms.
The series is one of the biggest success stories ever in terms of shows adapted from video games. But according to a study from industry research firm Omdia, as reported by Television Business International, the market for video game adaptations is becoming more competitive. In 2022, production studios adapted 47% more series from video games than in 2021, and consumers are taking notice.
Not only are they taking notice, in fact, they are alao registering their approval. Omdia’s report shows that customer sentiment toward shows adapted from games has warmed steadily over the past decade, as the quality of such series has improved. Mostly gone are the days of box-office bombs like “Tomb Raider” and “Prince of Persia,” thanks to more well-regarded series like “Halo” and “The Witcher.”
One reason that video game adaptations are being more well-received nowadays is their willingness to address important social or political issues that can help them reach wider audiences beyond gamers and tell fuller stories without the task-oriented nature of a video game. Streaming platforms offer more flexibility for showrunners that want to include these themes, and shows like “The Last of Us” that feature LGBTQ+ representation and multigenerational lead performers are harnessing those issues and turning them into greater viewership numbers, according to Omdia analyst Rua Aguete.
“Staying culturally relevant to today’s audiences keeps the storytelling fresh and drives conversation with viewers,” Aguete told TBI. “Even topics that may feel controversial to some drive engagement across the board. Streaming services and studios need more content to monetize their services and reach profitability. Dedicated fan bases across IP such as games, books and podcasts are becoming increasingly valuable.”
Aguete’s point about streamers needing to lean further into their best-loved IPs is being taken quite seriously across the streaming industry. Omdia’s numbers reinforce the findings from a September 2022 survey that shows more and more production houses are getting in on the trend.
Video games are not the only IPs that are being exploited more fully by media outlets, these days. Disney will be increasing focus on its biggest IPs in the next few years, including Marvel and Star Wars, but also some of its most-beloved animated franchises like “Toy Story” and “Frozen.” Warner Bros. Discovery has committed to generating more “Lord of the Rings” movies, as well as spin-off series from the movie adaptation of “It,” and more “Harry Potter” content as well.
Video game adaptations have had a fraught history in the entertainment industry. For a long time outlets were hesitant to embrace such games as sources for new movies or TV shows, and the ones they did adapt were of poor quality. But streaming has given writers and producers an ideal medium for the production of content based off these IPs, and audiences should prepare for more as studios lean into their franchises to better monetize their streaming customers.