Producers Look to Video Games for Their Next Hit

With networks turning over every bit of popular intellectual property to see what might work on television, video games are an increasingly hot source for development. Most recently: Amazon Studios has licensed the rights to Fallout, with Kilter Films, producer of HBO’s Westworld, producing.

Fallout is set in the future, following a global nuclear war. Amazon Studios would not comment on its plans, but Albert Cheng, chief operating officer and co-head of television, said in a statement the game is “an iconic global franchise” with loads of fans and lively storylines.

The popular video game ‘Fallout’ will be adapted into an Amazon Studios series. 

The popular video game ‘Fallout’ will be adapted into an Amazon Studios series. 

Amazon’s Fallout plot comes on the heels of HBO’s plans to adapt The Last of Us. The PlayStation game looks at a smuggler escorting a teen girl across a post-apocalyptic U.S. Craig Mazin, who created Chernobyl, will executive produce alongside Neil Druckmann, creative director of the game.

Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions are producing. Chris Parnell, co-president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, called it “the first of many shows we intend to develop with our friends at PlayStation Productions.”

Showtime, for its part, has long been working on a series based on the Xbox game Halo. It will depict the 26th-century conflict between humankind and an alien threat known as the Covenant. Showtime would not comment, but has said the project “will weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.”

Halo is scheduled to debut next year. Pablo Schreiber, Natascha McElhone and Bokeem Woodbine are in the cast.

The TV projects bring an automatic audience along for the ride. Nearly two-thirds of American adults played video games daily in 2019, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and one has to believe the number is going up considerably in work-from-home 2020.

“Previously subcultured gaming has bled into mainstream culture,” said Sarah Unger, senior VP of cultural insights and strategy at Civic Entertainment Group. “It extends across all demographics.” 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.