A common theme in coverage of HBO’s The Last of Us is that it’s breaking the curse of the video game adaptation. It’s fair enough for critics to have low expectations after awful movies like Assassin’s Creed, Hitman, and Max Payne, but only recently we’ve had Arcane, Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners and, if you want to go way, way back, the 1994 Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie all perfectly capture their source material.
Rightly or wrongly, the reviews indicate that The Last of Us is going to be the standard-bearer for proof that video game projects should be taken seriously. One person breathing a sigh of relief is PlayStation Productions chief Asad Qizilbash, who thinks that this show has lifted the stigma around these projects. Speaking with Indiewire, he reflected on past failures:
“Even back then, it was a lot trickier, and you had to prove yourself just a lot more in terms of the IP itself, because again, there was sort of a stigma back then against the video-game adaptation,”
He did go onto add that the widespread popularity of gaming means audiences are primed to take these stories seriously:
“That stigma has just gone. This generation understands the 60-80 hour console experience and the characters and story and the depth that these creators and these games are able to achieve. It just transfers over now in a much better way.”
Beyond The Last of Us, Playstation Productions has a lot in the pipeline. The Gran Turismo movie will release this summer, with Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, and Gravity Rush projects all in development. On the small screen we’ll get Twisted Metal later this year, while God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn both have TV shows in the works.
Our perspective is that the “stigma” of video game adaptations isn’t necessarily because of the source material, but because so many previous movies have outright sucked. Perhaps it’s as simple as just putting in the time and effort to make a good movie or TV show, and ensuring that the right talent is involved.
The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO.