In brief: Things might not be as bad as they were a decade or two ago, but the general rule still stands: most TV shows and movies based on video games are bad. There are a handful of exceptions, of course, the most lauded being The Last of Us, which has become the first live-action video game adaption to be nominated for major awards.
The recently announced nominees for the 75th annual Emmy Awards include a massive 25 nominations for The Last of Us, making it the second-most-nominated series this year. The show is set to compete in some of the most coveted categories, including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor/Actress (Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey), and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (Craig Mazin).
The show is also up for awards in a slew of other categories, including Outstanding Production Design, Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress (four actors, three actresses), Visual Effects, Music, and more. The show even has a nomination for its behind-the-scenes short Inside The Episode, which is in the Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series category.
There have been some true turkeys in the history of video game movie/TV adaptations. The first-ever entry in the genre, Super Mario Bros., is pretty notorious, while popping one's eyes out with a spoon and eating them is preferable to watching Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark or House of the Dead. Flops are still being made today; Netflix's Resident Evil show was canned after one heavily criticized season.
Despite failing to win over critics, many video game movies make a lot of money – Warcraft made $439 million globally, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter grossed $312 million. Moreover, the most successful movies and shows, both in terms of critical acclaim and money made, tend to be animated. 2023's The Super Mario Bros. Movie has made $1.3 billion, while Netflix's League of Legends-based Arcane series won an Emmy last year.
The Last of Us shows that with the right people behind it, live-action video game movies and shows can be nominated for awards beyond Golden Raspberries. Part II of the show is expected to arrive next year or early 2025, and Mazin said he wants at least three seasons.
Fans of live-action video game adaptations have plenty to look forward to. There's Amazon's God of War, Peacock's Twisted Metal, and another highly anticipated show from Amazon Prime Video: Fallout. Hopefully, they will receive similar levels of success as HBO's series.