After spending decades joking about them, it feels weird to say that video game movie/TV adaptations are on an upward trend. Recent successes - like Netflix's The Witcher, and the moderately successful second attempt at adapting the Tomb Raider franchise - have proven that there may be potential after all. Fans had begun to doubt this could ever really be possible after past disasters like the Super Mario Bros movie.
It still feels bizarre to say that after almost a decade of discussing the topic, an Uncharted movie is actually releasing (I never thought this is something I'd ever see, so I really hope it's good)! Netflix even recently acquired the rights to bring live-action adaptations of Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, and The Division franchises to their streaming service, so it's clear the potential in these worlds is finally being noticed.
Sony, more than any other studio, is definitely putting the biggest push into their first-party franchises, opening a new TV/movie division altogether, PlayStation Productions. The new division is dedicated to adapting their biggest franchises for the silver screen.
Sony is focussed on uniting their various IP across all mediums through a new program known as One Sony which will continue to integrate and unify all of Sony's companies into one.
Recent comments from Sony Pictures CEO, Tony Vinciquerra, have confirmed the company is in production on ten adaptions of their gaming franchises across seven TV series, and three movies, but what are they? Here are some of the most likely franchises that could hit the big or small screen in the years to come.
1. & 2.) A NAUGHTY DOG PARADISE
Let's start off with what we already know is on the way. It's no secret that Naughty Dog is the undisputed king of original storytelling at PlayStation, which has made them the clear front-runner for the first projects coming from PlayStation Productions.
Sony has been trying to get a live-action production based upon their Uncharted franchise off-the-ground for almost a decade now, and after falling out with numerous directors and actors, the film is finally shot and ready to release. Let's hope that after the long wait it lives up to all the hype.
Whether Tom Holland is the right choice for Nathan Drake has been debated heavily, but given the film's focus on a younger version of Drake, it's certain to make for an interesting, largely unexplored take. Mark Wahlberg will be co-starring as Drake's mentor, Sully, another controversial choice (who was originally hired to play Drake in the early years of this project), but the duo is sure to deliver an action-adventure spectacle under director Ruben Fleischer.
Secondly from Naughty Dog, a series based on The Last of Us is in development at HBO with Russian indie filmmaker Kantemir Balagov set to direct the pilot after scheduling conflicts with the original crew. Not much is known about the plans for the series storyline as of now, but fans of the original games eagerly await the casting of lead characters Joel and Ellie.
The series remains relatively early in production as a collaboration between HBO, PlayStation Productions, and Naughty Dog themselves. This makes it unlikely the series will arrive any time before 2022 with it more likely to push into 2023. Personally, I'm routing for Hugh Jackman as Joel, and Dafne Keen as Ellie, in a Logan reunion.
3.) GOD OF WAR
It's safe to say God of War may be PlayStation's highest regarded exclusive franchise and by far their safest bet for a live-action TV or movie adaptation. Recent attempts to put the grandest fantasy worlds in front of the camera — such as Netflix's The Witcher series — have proved that with the right budget, these can be a great fit.
A universe with the scale of God of War needs the extra time to explore on a scale that a movie simply can't provide. The original trilogy of games focussed on a younger Kratos slaying the gods of Greek mythology. In my eyes, this would make for the perfect point in time to spend several seasons of a God of War series, allowing the focus to remain on Kratos himself.
The newer titles have turned their focus to an older version of the character, now a father, venturing through Norse mythology with focus placed on Odin and Thor. My ideal take on this world would take a large time jump for a final season or two, in which we explore how fatherhood changes Kratos and spend time building his bond with Atreus.
4.) HORIZON ZERO DAWN
Possibly no franchise is better suited to take up one of the three big-screen spots, than Horizon Zero Dawn — which is set to be followed by a sequel, Horizon Forbidden West, later in 2021.
When this series launched in 2017, it was instantly clear this was one of the most original worlds being crafted in entertainment. The concept of the story is so unique in blending a fantasy world in a tale led by a young hunter Aloy, as she takes down dinosaur-sized robots and uncovers the secrets of her past.
The massive scale of Aloy's world and the grand visuals required to create Machines on the level they're displayed in the game means that a high-budget big-screen adaptation is the only way to go for Aloy.
Uncharted has proven Sony is willing to go big on their acting budget for these adaptations, so I would not be shocked to see them pour the same money into Horizon after how popular the original title was, and the level of anticipation for the sequel.
5.) INSOMNIAC SPIDER-MAN
Now hear me out on this one...an animated spin-off series connecting to Insomniac's Spider-Man universe.
Insomniac's unique take on Spider-Man in gaming has proven to be a huge hit, with both the original Spider-Man title and the recent Miles Morales spin-off title being received as some of the best Spidey stories ever told. Why not continue this universe with an animated prequel series set before the events of the first game, exploring the origins of this take on Spider-Man in the same visual style as the games.
With the existence of the 'One Sony' policy discussed earlier, it's clear Sony is interested in crossing over their various IP across all mediums. Possibly the biggest property Sony has in its pocket is the rights to Marvel's Spider-Man character, and they're already getting their fair share of use out of those rights with plenty of animated and live-action productions in the works from Sony Pictures.
Why not give the newly founded PlayStation Productions a shot at the Spider-Man IP, with some assistance from the writing team at Insomniac and the game's original voice actors to complete the package!
6.) TWISTED METAL
While most people's focus is on the Uncharted and The Last of Us projects announced to be in development. Another confirmed adaptation that has largely flown under the radar is a series based on car battle classic, Twisted Metal. This is definitely one of the boldest moves they've made thus far by adapting the vehicular combat franchise into a series.
It remains unclear exactly how you can transform the mindless hectic fun of Twisted Metal into an actual coherent storyline, but it's going to be exciting to see how the team at Sony pulls this off.
At the very least, the series will definitely make for some awesome visuals with the right budget; however, there is yet to be any confirmation whether this is being produced as live-action or animation. The series was announced back in May 2019 so it's possible — if the development has been actively proceeding — that some news on this could follow very soon.
7.) RATCHET AND CLANK
Believe it or not, there was a long era of original Insomniac titles before their hit Spider-Man game series began. One of these is even set to release a new installment this year, Ratchet and Clank. It was only recently that Sony acquired Insomniac as the newest addition to their first-party lineup so why not take advantage of that with possibly the most obvious gaming duo who could take the animated world by storm.
Yes, they tried with this property before, releasing a CG film alongside Ratchet and Clank (PS4) back in 2016. Now while the game from that year had fans falling back in love with the series, the movie did not light the world on fire.
The visual style and world of Ratchet and Clank make them a perfect fit for an animated series. What concept could fit a series better than following our hero Ratchet and robot Clank, as they traverse the universe defeating evil and saving the world with zany weapons as they go.
The series is famous for its unique and over-the-top gadgets, which would sell the toys on their own really — is there anything kids would enjoy more? How Sony hasn't already done this really is a mystery.
8.) GRAN TURISMO
Let's discuss one of the more unique ideas of mine we've discussed here. Sports and driving movies have been all the rage recently with movies like Creed and Ford vs Ferrari, so I think it'd be interesting to see PlayStation take a stab into the genre with a Gran Turismo movie.
This wouldn't be the first attempt at a movie like this after the Need for Speed movie in 2014 starring Aaron Paul which largely turned into a generic action spectacle more than anything else. A film that holds its routes in a more grounded movie set on the racetrack. A focus on a rivalry between drivers would make for something far more interesting, standing out from the rest of the lineup of adaptations.
9.) ASTRO'S PLAYROOM
Many of you maybe be wondering “who or what is Astro and why is he on this list?”
Well, PS5 owners are sure to be familiar with the funny-little robot, Astro, who is featured in Astro's Playroom, a 3D platformer that comes pre-installed on PS5 consoles, showcasing the nifty new features of the DualSense controller. Astro previously appeared in Astro's Bot Rescue Mission, a PSVR exclusive title designed to showcase the new VR headset.
Sony has clearly been trying to establish Astro as one of the faces of PlayStation, which I think makes him a perfect fit for a series of animated shorts focussing on the comedic antics of this adorable robotic crew. The potential series would include no dialogue, entirely relying on sound effects for the humor, in a similar vein to the classic Lego games and animated films.
A clever idea if Sony really wanted to take this the extra mile would be to release the shorts directly within the Astro's Playroom application on PlayStation 5 systems. Each short would take Astro and some friends to a different world and could include a new playable level attached to each episode, allowing kids to live out the story they just watched in a truly innovative cross-medium experience.
10.) CRASH BANDICOOT
It wouldn't be PlayStation without Crash Bandicoot. The iconic chaotic marsupial would be the perfect choice for a family-friendly animated movie or series.
The franchise dates back to the original Naughty Dog title in 1996, so it's safe to say the brand crosses generations of gamers. While the franchise is no longer a PlayStation exclusive, it did start that way and could easily slide into the PlayStation Productions lineup.
A charming cartoon animation style for the series in a similar vein to classics like Tom and Jerry would allow the character to resonate with younger audiences, whilst hitting the nostalgic notes for classic fans. The series could follow Crash's adventures through the Wumpa Islands, potentially spending some episodes putting Crash in the driver seat taking inspiration from the Crash kart racing games.
Crash's scientist creator, Doctor Neo Cortex, makes for a perfect antagonist for the character, aiming to destroy his failed experiment, so what better way to adapt the character than a series that primarily focussed on that rivalry.