Video Games: Can They Really Become Great Movies?

Crystal Kendrick

August 23rd, 2016

Every now and then a video game will come out and some company will jump at the chance to make a film out of it. But can these movies ever be any good? Here, our Crystal Kendrick takes a look at what's needed for a successful project.

Can Video Games Really Become Great Movies?

Here are some pointers for people and studios planning to create a video game based movie. Pay attention guys!

Don’t Choose A Video Game That Is Too Story Heavy


silent hill video games

Credit: Silent Hill

Not every video game would make a great feature film. One of the most commonly stated reasons for why movies converted to video games don’t work is that the movies just don't have the same amount of time needed to develop a story as a game does. A game can be dozens of hours long. A game can have lots of documents to read  and multiple different storylines within it. However, a movie is usually only two hours long, and subject to the limits of a massively shortened run-time. Most movie goers don’t want to spend a whole movie reading off of documents that the main character picked-up off the ground to get the backstory.

So how does one get around this?

Films can still be made, but they have to be movies where the video game isn’t too story-based. That might sound extremely counterproductive since all movies are, by their very nature, story based. With no story there is no movie. But, in the end, all of these projects are going to be adaptations. There is no way a film catch match a game plot-point-for-plot-point, so don't try.

Make Sure Any Audience Can Enjoy The Film

hitman video games

Credit: Hitman

Movies based on video games are expected to have a large amount of their viewership come from people that are already fans of the source material. However, not everyone who see those movies is going to be a hardcore fan. Some people have the game and liked it, but never even got around to beating it, some have only played a few games in the series. Some folks might have just thought the trailer looked cool, but knew nothing else about the franchise outside of the movie they have just bought a ticket for  

Movie goers should be able to easily understand the film without much prior knowledge of the game franchise. For example, if someone wants to watch a Silent Hill movie, they shouldn’t have to have played, completed and thoroughly analyzed all the symbolism in all eight games in the series. That’s not to say that there can’t be little references in the movie that only hardcore Silent Hill fans can understand, but that does mean that the whole movie shouldn’t be filled with complex moments from the game.

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A few nods here and there should do the trick.

Focus On Making A Great Movie

bloodrayne video games

Credit: Bloodrayne

Time and time again I’ve seen movie adaptations where the creators wanted to touch on every single game in a franchise or perhaps even just a handful. Given the fact that; (A) a movie is usually only 2 hours long and (B) a lot of games tend to not be as straightforward as films in their story arcs, things can get a little disjointed.

If two characters are 12 games apart, then there’s no reason to shove them both into a film; even if both characters are fan favourites. Fans are always happy initially to see both, until five seconds later when they’ve realized that the story no longer makes any type of sense.

A lot of franchises have a lot of different games, since they have been around for decades, so it’s best to only focus on one or two games worth of story material to avoid becoming disjointed. Using the Silent Hill example again, Harry Mason, the protagonist of Silent Hill, and Murphy Pendleton, the protagonist of Silent Hill: Downpour (the eight instalment), should not be meeting up in a move. Their stories never cross paths and don’t have anything to do with each other.

Crossovers do not work well on the big screen, Crossovers usually require prior knowledge but more than that, the creators would have to blend the two stories to ill-effect.

Don’t Regurgitate The Same Old Thing

resident evil video games

Credit: Resident Evil

Should the creators stick heavily to the source material or venture out on their own?

Some “fandoms” are very picky about this issue. They seem to hate everything that isn’t like the original. But of course, why watch a movie when it’s EXACTLY like the video game you have already played?

So basically this becomes more about sticking to the original story but adding a little bit of something different to the mix. There’s a very thin line between love and hate, especially when it comes to remaking something that people already love. Creators almost never stick completely to the source material, because of the issues we previously discussed. However, they do tend to leave in certain things that could more than likely have been left out, because they think these small inclusions add to the experience, when they really just bring down the quality of the movie. For example, leaving in all of the notes for an Outlast movie would probably just frustrate the audience.

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Maybe one or two small ones as a nod to the video games might do the trick.

Take these lessons on board please ladies and gentlemen. Your projects will be more successful if you do.


What do you think of this advice to film studios?

What has been your experiences with movies based on video games?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments sections below.


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