Video Game Adaptations Are Getting Better: It’s Time We Admit It

TV shows like the just-released Cyberpunk: Edgerunners show us that video game adaptation have come a long way.

Entertainment media has a wide scope and all the niches work hand in hand with one another. Movies are adapted from books, TV shows are based on movies, and vice versa. Video games are no exception to this rule and follow this same connectivity. 

A lot of video Games are based on books and get tie-in novels. Many games in the 2000s were playable versions of famous movies in what was a popular trend. The Spider-Man games based on the Raimi trilogy are prime examples of this. 

But, the most popular conversion of the medium is movies and TV shows based on video games. This practice of adapting video games to other media has been around since the 90s. Super Mario Bros. was the first major Hollywood movie based on a game. 

If you don’t know about it, we don’t blame you because it was a mess and a complete failure. Since its release in 1993, Hollywood has made many movies from popular games. At least one or two have come out every year except in 1996, 1998, and 2000. 

So, putting popular video games people love on the big screen has been in trend for a long time. But, it won’t be wrong to say that they haven’t been as successful as the parent medium. Almost all of the movies and TV shows adapted from games have got a negative reception. 

The trend is so common and bad that seeing a video game adaptation get a positive score is truly shocking. No one knows why this has been the case for video games when it should be easy turning such a medium into movies. Due to this long-lasting incompetence players stopped expecting much from such movies and TV shows.

However, recently there has been a surprising upturn in the quality of movies and TV shows adapted from video games. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners came out a few days back and has been a hit among normal viewers and in the gaming community. Fans and critics alike have been giving positive reviews to the show as it’s truly brilliant.

So, that made me think about how recently video game adaptations haven’t been total garbage. Has Hollywood finally cracked the code to making good video game adaptations or is it too early to give them credit? I will give a few examples to show how the former is true and that they deserve plaudits.


Major Takeaways: 

  • Movies and TV shows based on video games have improved a lot recently.
  • Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is another addition to recent the upturn in good video game-based media.
  • Movies and TV show adaptation of video games always have a positive impact as they expose the audience to the original medium.

TV Shows Have Helped With Adapting Games:

2 or 3 years ago, we didn’t see many big-budget TV shows based on video games. Anime based on games have been a thing for a while now. But this alongside animated children’s shows was the only expression of video games on TV for a long time.

No popular and mainstream shows were getting made for streaming services or networks. However, Netflix changed that when it released Arcane in 2021. Based on the popular PC game League of Legends, the show piqued the interest of the gaming community.

Arcane was a huge hit for Netflix and exceeded the expectations of fans. It received universal acclaim from critics too who loved the depth this show had. The animated series was also really popular among the general audience.

So, Arcane broke the trend of bad video game adaptions by giving us something truly worth watching. The reason it got so much acclaim was the TV show formula. Making it a TV series gave Arcane time for world-building and also brought players back to the original game.

While calling it one of the best video game adaptations, critics highlighted this part. One other example of this formula succeeding is the recent show Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. The series came out last week and has since been among the top Netflix shows.

Like Arcane, Edgerunners is also an animated show and has got critical acclaim from fans. With an 8.6 approval rating from IMDB, it’s clear to see the work as a fan favorite. Seeing how we rarely see good video game adaptations, two in a row is certainly a surprise. 

The reason for this success is again the levity TV shows give to writers for world-building. Edgerunners capitalized on that and as a result, is a big hit among non-gamers too. Cyberpunk 2077 has also seen a resurgence in players due to how popular this show has become.

More and more game adaptations are getting big TV shows instead of movies now. Resident Evil and Halo are two examples of this. Even though Resident Evil got canceled after 1 season by Netflix, gamers didn’t hate it as much as the movies.

It’s true that it could have been better but it was a better attempt than the movies. The Halo series on Paramount has also divided fans but many gamers have loved the adaptation. A 7.1 rating on IMDB signifies that and it’s also set for the 2nd season.

Netflix turned another pretty popular game into a TV show, The Witcher. Even though this show is based on the books and not the games, it’s still been a huge hit banking on the popularity of the game. So, it’s safe to put it on the “successful TV adaption of games” list.

So far only one major gaming TV show has been a mishit. A lot of major studios are reverting to TV for video game adaptations now. Sony is making a God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us series and has many projects in the works on different networks. 

Ubisoft is working on a Skull & Bones TV show while Remedy is bringing Alan Wake to TV. A highly anticipated Fallout series is also in development. Hence, studios have finally discovered the potential TV series adaptations of video games has.

Movies Are Also Significantly Better:

All the focus on TV shows doesn’t mean movie adaptations are stagnating. Actually, they are in their best shape and have shown improvement. Not only are they making money at the box office, but also appeasing fans. 

Sonic has spawned a new franchise through its movies. The first Sonic the Hedgehog came out in 2020 and was a huge box office success prior to the pandemic. Even though it didn’t break the average reviews curse of video games, it gained the approval of the general audience.

It had a 93% approval rating from fans on Rotten Tomatoes. Knowing, the movie adaptation of video games, that’s a very hard feat to achieve. The movie got a well-deserved sequel which came out in March 2022. 

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was an even bigger success than the first one. It became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time while getting a 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics also considered it an improvement and the whole series is a mark of fan service. 

Uncharted is also another example of the recent upturn in video game movie quality. Like Sonic, it didn’t appease the critics but the adventure movie was a hit among fans. It became the fifth highest-grossing video game movie of all time with a 90% audience score

No one has been able to beat World of Warcraft’s box office score and become the highest-grossing video game movie of all time. But, detective Pikachu came pretty close in 2019 and missed by a small margin. It’s another example of mixed critic reviews but a good audience score with a 79% audience rating

So, we can see that the movies adapting video games have not wooed the critics yet. And, that is not without reason because they still have flaws. But, it would be wrong to say that they haven’t improved a significant amount. 

Not only are the audience scores better, but gaming audiences are also enjoying them more. This is proved by the fact that 4 of the top 5 highest-grossing video game movies have come out in the last 3 years. Hence, we should give credit to studios for at least making this genre fun. 

With dozens of video game movies coming in the next few years we can hope these flaws will further decrease. Metal Gear Solid, Ghost of Tsushima, Gran Turismo, It Takes Two and Yakuza are just some of the games getting movies. So, alongside the obvious sequels, there is a lot of new stuff we can look forward to. 

Movies and TV shows based on games only further help the original medium. Not only do they bring more audience to the game but also expose the general public to how artistic this medium is. Hopefully Hollywood keeps releasing TV shows and movies based on video games as we can’t have enough of them. 

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Ahmed Mansoor


Your average video games enjoyer with a deep passion for single-player adventures who writes about his favorite hobby.