Live-action video game to movie adaptations have a notoriously bad reputation thanks to gems like Super Mario Brothers (1993) and Street Fighter (1994), but as games have become more sophisticated through deep storytelling and memorable characters, the opportunity for quality film adaptations has been created. In recent years, game publishers have invited fans into their worlds through live-action films such as Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn but a new trend is emerging—turning the hottest games into digital TV series. Scripted series create a unique outlet for game promotion across channels that reach gamers and non-gamers alike, reaching a much larger audience.
The Division: Agent Origins
Ubisoft has tapped into the creative talents and audiences of three YouTube creators to make a 30-minute short film that tells the back stories of four Division agents ahead of launching the hit game, Tom Clancy’s The Division. The game publisher worked with RocketJump and devinsupertramp to develop Agent Origins, which was produced by Corridor Digital.
Agent Origins was released as four separate episodes on YouTube, each featured on the respective creator’s and Ubisoft’s channels, and also debuted in its entirety with exclusive scenes on Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service. Amazon Prime members are able to watch the 30-minute short film with five minutes of exclusive scenes via the Amazon Video app on TVs, connected devices and mobile devices or online.
“The reach of Amazon Prime and YouTube is huge,” Ann Hamilton, brand representative at Ubisoft told ION, “and it is where our consumers are going for their entertainment more and more in the future of our business. YouTube celebrities are just as influential now as TV and movie celebrities. Digital is now another way we put content in front of audiences to enjoy.”
Ghost Recon Wildlands: War Within The Cartel
Ubisoft continues its cinematic game promotions with War Within the Cartel—a prequel to the upcoming open-world tactical game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The 30-minute video features the Santa Blanca drug cartel as they seek to flush out a traitor within their ranks—and its events will lead up to the opening moments of Ubisoft’s new game.
Starring rapper-turned-actor, Tip “T.I.” Harris, War Within The Cartel will be executive produced by Star Trek and Amazing Spider-Man writer, Roberto Orci. It will premiere on Ubisoft’s Twitch channel on February 16 and will then be available to watch on for free on Amazon for Prime subscribers.
Dead Rising: Watchtower and Endgame
Dead Rising: Watchtower and its sequel, Dead Rising: Endgame are two live-action short films based on the popular zombie-slaying games by Capcom, released exclusively for Crackle in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The films dropped fans right into the gory action with such stars as Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives), Keegan Connor Tracy (Once Upon a Time) and Billy Zane (Zoolander 2).
Following the success of both films, actor Jesse Metcalfe told Digital Spy, “Maybe there’ll be a third installment of the Dead Rising [film] franchise. They’ve even been throwing around the idea of a possible series. They like the idea that each episode would have a clock on it, similar to 24. It’d be an edge-of-your-seat, action-driven show—within the zombie genre, so it would have two really strong elements going for it.”
This past July, Paramount Pictures and Anonymous Content announced that they had plans to bring the Battlefield franchise to television with Academy Award winner Michael Sugar attached as one of the project’s producers. There’s no word on what form the series will take at this point, only that the two studios—which also produced Mr. Robot—have picked up the rights to the Electronic Arts franchise with plans to turn it into a TV series.
“Paramount TV actively seeks smart content from all sectors that will resonate with audiences and translate to compelling programming,” said Amy Powell, president of Paramount TV in the press release. “EA’s Battlefield has an incredibly dynamic narrative, coupled with a loyal fan base, which will allow us to bring this exciting and unique property to the small screen. We look forward to working with EA and Anonymous Content and thank Michael Sugar for his tenacity in bringing us this exciting project.”
Life Is Strange
Another game is reported headed to the small screen as a digital series—Life is Strange, the award-winning episodic game by Square Enix about a girl with the ability to rewind time.
“We’re proud and excited to be working alongside Legendary to realize a new version of Arcadia Bay and Blackwell Academy complete with our rich cast of realistic, believable characters and memorable events,” said Jon Brooke, vice president for brand and European marketing at Square Enix in the announcement.
The series will be developed and produced by Legendary Digital and DJ2 Entertainment. DJ2 is also producing Sony Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog film, scheduled to hit theaters in 2018. Legendary Digital’s projects include the aforementioned Dead Rising films for streaming network, Crackle. The production companies are “currently meeting with potential writers,” according to the press release.