Online Games That Could Make Great Movies
Film fans have grown used to the idea of popular video games being adapted as major movies. Just last year we saw Hitman: Agent 47 in theaters, and this summer Assassin’s Creed could become one of the bigger blockbusters of the season. But 2016 has also brought about an interesting new trend, in that some simpler video games built for mobile communities and online platforms are also being adapted for cinema.
Specifically, Angry Birds was released to the tune of $39 million on its opening weekend. And then there’s Warcraft, which comes out this week and is probably being advertised more than any other summer film. These games may not seem to have the same potential on the big screen as bigger and more beautiful console games, but they do have beloved characters and massive, passionate fan bases. They also carry a certain sort of simplicity that allows screenwriters and directors a degree of freedom in building stories out of the characters and settings, whereas there’s more plot restriction with some console adaptations.
As crazy as it sounds, there actually appears to be a ton of potential for adaptations like Angry Birds and Warcraft, which makes you wonder what might come next. There aren’t many mobile or online games as big as those two, but even some smaller Internet-based games could now be in line for their own feature films (or would at least be intriguing as source material!). Let’s take a look at a few good candidates.
Angry Birds did something very interesting, in that it basically gave personalities and back stories to characters that previously were known only for their various flight patterns and destructive abilities in the game. They used source material popular among kids as a sort of existing set of cartoon characters that hadn’t been fleshed out yet and created a children’s adventure out of them. The very same thing could be done with Bloons Tower Defense, which gives different looks and defensive tactics to a bunch of cartoon monkeys who are trying to stop “bloons” from reaching a destination. Strangely, an adaptation of this game could work pretty similarly to Angry Birds.
Jetpack Joyride has been around for some time now, and while it may not have had the viral heights of a game like Angry Birds, it’s had one of the more sustained runs of success in app stores. Modeled after games like Helicopter, it’s about keeping a character named Barry Steakfries airborne while avoiding obstacles and collecting prizes and rewards. It’s an easy game for young kids to get into, so a lot of them would probably recognize Barry Steakfries as the lead in an animated film adventure filled with action.
In terms of gameplay, Gonzo’s Quest is fairly simple, and geared toward an older audience. That’s because it’s an arcade slot machine with real money payouts. But the game also features a cartoonish aspect in the form of Gonzo, a short, good-natured, and surprisingly well-animated character representing Spanish explorers in the New World (and specifically after El Dorado). The game opens with a cinematic introduction to Gonzo’s “quest,” which could almost function as a film trailer as is. A movie based on this game could offer a different take on the story of El Dorado, perhaps with a slightly more grown up (but still animated and comedic) tone.
This one’s probably the biggest long shot of the bunch simply because it’s not the sort of game to inspire lovable characters or viral popularity. But it was a very successful mobile gaming release, and its gorgeous visual quality sets the stage for what could be an interesting movie environment. Alto’s Adventure is an endless runner, but instead of a runner you control a snowboarder, and the terrain and background are remarkably attractive. The atmosphere is so intoxicating it makes you wonder if a whole side-scrolling endless runner movie could be interesting in any way.
If I had to bet on one game from this list, or really from all online and mobile titles, it would be this one. Plants Vs. Zombies (or PvZ) has become a very successful series on multiple platforms, and it’s probably the most light-hearted zombie game out there. It’s all about goofy plants stopping goofier zombies from advancing on their target homes (and other establishments), and people of all ages love it. This one has film franchise written all over it.
If Warcraft is anywhere near as successful as Angry Birds, we can almost certainly start anticipating more adaptations of similar games. And if that’s going to be the case, the titles on this list would seem to be worth considering.