Video games on TV: Ten shows hoping to repeat success of The Last Of Us
The race is on to find the next video game TV hit
Since its debut, HBO's adaptation of the hit PlayStation video game The Last of Us has taken over TV discourse like a tendril of Cordyceps, coiling its way through our collective consciousness.
While a standout show in its own part, The Last of Us is special for another reason: it’s one of the first video game adaptations to make the leap into prestige television. The question now is can it be followed?
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Here are 10 video game adaptations currently in development that have the potential to take up the mantle.
Tomb Raider | Prime Video
As reported by the Hollywood Reporter in 2023, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) is penning a script for a live-action Tomb Raider series with Amazon's Prime Video after renewing her deal with the streaming giant.
It looks like Waller-Bridge won’t be starring as Lara Croft herself, but any project involving the creator of Fleabag and writer of Killing Eve seems destined for success.
God of War | Prime Video
Staying with Prime, 2022 saw confirmation of the much-anticipated God of War show following the journey of Kratos and Atreus, loosely based in Norse mythology. In a similar vein to The Last of Us, Prime will be keeping the creative team behind the 2018 best-selling game involved in production, including creative director Cory Barlog, who will act as Executive Producer on the show.
While no casting announcements have yet been made, God of War has assembled a strong production team, with Rafe Judkins (The Wheel of Time) acting as showrunner and a writing team of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men, The Expanse).
Fallout | Prime Video
Prime Video will also play host to the upcoming Fallout adaptation, developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (Westworld) and starring Walter Goggins (Justified).
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Very little is known about the show despite filming beginning in mid-2022, however the critically-acclaimed retro futuristic world feels like a seamless transition from game to screen. If the show can implement the signature quirkiness of the game series into live-action, Prime could have three successful video-game adaptations on their hands.
Horizon: Zero Dawn | Netflix
Not to be outdone by Prime, Netflix has committed to adapting a few video games for their streaming service, and Horizon: Zero Dawn has the potential to be the cream of the crop. Announced in 2022 with Steve Blackman (The Umbrella Academy) attached as showrunner, Horizon tells a powerful story of motherhood and love, centered in a post-apocalyptic future of the United States.
Both hi-tech and tribal, humans have taken to using rudimentary weapons to stave off the threat of robot-like dinosaurs (it’s not as kooky as it sounds), while our protagonist Aloy unravels the mysteries of the world. If Netflix can get the world-building and the scale of the narrative correct, Horizon will be a tremendous show.
Assassin’s Creed | Netflix
One of the most recognisable video game franchises of the 21st century, Assassin’s Creed is no stranger to adaptations, following the poor 2016 film. Netflix will hope its live-action series eclipses the original film adaptation.
Very little is known about the upcoming show, but the Assassin’s Creed franchise has an immense breadth of stories to tell and Netflix/Ubisoft homing in on the best way to bring these stories to a wider audience is no bad thing.
Live-Action Pokémon series | Netflix
It’s frankly wild that in 2023, we’re yet to have any live-action Pokémon content outside of Detective Pikachu (2019). Thankfully, Netflix is on hand to rectify this oversight, aiming to deliver a live-action fantasy comedy series based on the iconic franchise.
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Variety has reported that Joe Henderson (Lucifer) is slated to be the showrunner, but little else is currently known. So in the meantime, let us imagine a live-action retelling of our many hours spent glued to a GameBoy Colour as we traversed the Kanto region, foiled Team Rocket and defeated the Elite Four.
Gears of War | Netflix
While Netflix is planning on bringing a live-action Gears of War film to its service, it also has an adult-animation show in the works. While not as flashy as the film, recent years have shown that adult-animation can be a huge market.
Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista has long campaigned to play Marcus Fenix in a live action adaptation of the hit Xbox game. He shared a video of himself in costume in November 2022 when the show was announced with the caption "I can't make this any easier".
I can’t make this any easier. @gearsofwar @netflix #marcusfenix #GearsofWar pic.twitter.com/SzDpiT2rNA
— Dave Bautista (@DaveBautista) November 10, 2022
Invincible on Prime was a runaway success, and a Gears of War show can follow suit with its hardcore violence and gore.
Alan Wake | AMC
A wildcard in this discussion is Alan Wake, currently in development at AMC. Based on the video game series of the same name, the story follows the titular character as he uncovers the secret to his wife’s disappearance while simultaneously experiencing plot points from his most recent novel come to life.
The episodic format of the game perfectly lends itself to the small screen, and the psychological thriller-esque story gives AMC a strong chance for another hit TV show.
Twisted Metal | Peacock
Peacock will also be entering the video game adaptation market with its take on Twisted Metal, developed by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland) and starring Anthony Mackie as the series lead.
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the series focuses on vehicular combat and traversal, and Mackie will be playing John Doe – a milkman tasked with delivering a package across said wasteland while evading marauders dressed up like clowns. If all of this reads like a fever dream, don’t fear, it’s very real. Think Mad Max: Fury Road with Deadpool-esque humour. Should be a wild ride.
Mass Effect | Prime Video (TBC)
Finally, we end with the greatest enigma in the video game-to-television pipeline. The original Mass Effect trilogy stands as one of the most universally-acclaimed series of all time, amassing a huge fanbase for its lore, characters, relationships and overall story.
Its galaxy-spanning adventure feels destined to make a splash on the small screen, and yet we’re still waiting. As of 2021, it was reported by Deadline that Prime Video currently holds the rights to any future adaptation. Prime has a history of outstanding adaptations so far, with Rings of Power, Invincible and The Boys all becoming must-see TV.
Here’s hoping we see Commander Shepherd on our screens in the near future.
The Last Of Us airs weekly on Sky. Watch a clip below.