As longtime TG readers know, we’ve been wondering for quite some time why there hasn’t been a great video game movie. But game adaptations have apparently been doing very well with the Halo 4 webisodes, and the Syfy series Defiance, a very expensive risk that’s apparently paying off.
How expensive? Try a reported $100 million. And what makes this situation unique is the show went on the air the week after the game debuted. This is obviously a big difference from a title like World of Warcraft, or Halo, where movie adaptations have been in the works for years, and the games have already established strong fan foundations.
As we've discussed previously on TG Daily, the show and game were developed at the same time in collaboration between Syfy and Trion Worlds. As the New York Times notes, "Each is designed to be a stand-alone piece of entertainment. Yet they also intersect. Events in the show will influence the game. And events in the game will influence the show."
This is certainly an ambitious undertaking, and one executive involved in the show said you have to play the game in real time in-between the Syfy episodes to really get the full-blown experience. This could also be a big help bridging the gap between games and movies because a big screen video game movie doesn’t have the interactive experience. As Dave Howe, the president of Syfy, told the Hollywood Reporter, "This project makes sense in the marriage of content and distribution."
It’s also interesting to note that The New York Times wasn’t impressed with the game and the show as separate entities, but felt the project has promise "in combination." Nevertheless, the show has gotten a promising start in the ratings. According to Giant Freakin Robot, the show only received 2.7 million viewers in its debut, "the best the network has seen since the mystery drama Warehouse 13 debuted…"
So if Defiance can go the distance, it could be a good model for how games and their live action adaptations can be developed. Again, this is a very ambitious idea, and if it pays off it could open the door for similar experiments down the road.