For much of the last century, film and music have been the two undoubted giants of the entertainment industry, accounting for almost two thirds of revenues in that time. Now in 2020 the power dynamic has shifted away from music and towards gaming, which last year made up over half (£3.96 billion) of the entertainment industry’s total revenues.
Despite seeing its revenues diminish slightly over the past decade, film has remained as one of the most lucrative industry’s in entertainment. Such is the success of gaming that film has looked to it for inspiration and even collaboration.
In this article we will explore in fine detail the symbiotic relationship between film and gaming and explain how both have used the other to excel and thrive.
In 1980 the average cost of marketing a movie in the United States was $4.3 million. In 2013, Paramount Pictures spent $100 million advertising their movie Transformers: Age of Extinction in the US.
The cost of marketing and advertising is of growing concern for the movie industry nowadays with insiders suggesting that $200 million marketing budgets could be needed soon to make any movie a commercial success in the US or Europe.
Producing films based on popular video games targeted at an already devoted audience is one way to cut marketing costs, but there is a simpler way that film uses gaming to cut its costs.
Bet on Gaming
One of the least spoken about sectors of the gaming industry is online gambling, which is all too frequently disregarded as an industry of its own. Since moving into mainstream use online, gambling has gone from strength to strength, becoming a major contributor to the total revenues of the gaming sector.
Online gambling’s huge reach of hundreds of millions of players makes it the perfect marketing tool for any savvy industry. Film producers and marketing teams have been quick to tap into this potential and form commercial partnerships with online gambling producers.
The majority of gambling fans play slot machines online, so understandably these are the games that film marketing teams have partnered up. The process is simple, films sell licenses to slots developers to use their logo, music and characters in their games.
It’s a win-win for both sides as slots attract more players who love the movie that the game is based on and the film gains more paying viewers from curious slot machine lovers.
As gaming has increased in popularity, developers have had to find new and creative ways to keep their titles fresh and appealing to potential customers. Up until around the mid-2000s only three real types of video game genres existed in sports games, first-person shooters and fantasy role plays.
Since then the industry has had to think outside of the box and come up with more engaging themes and genres. For inspiration developers looked to film and began to diversify their titles based on what was popular in the movie industry.
Horror was one of the first crossover genres to really take a hold in video games, with fans responding well to the tension-filled, anxiety inducing cut scenes. PlayStation were the first platform to really embrace this idea and have had great success with games such as Alien: Isolation and Past Cure. Horror isn’t the only genre that can make the successful move from film screens to video games. In the coming years, as gaming continues to grow in popularity expect to see many more new and interesting genres explored on console and PC.
Traditional thinking dictates that gamers like fast-paced environments with thrills and spills galore and endless challenges to test themselves against. That way of thinking may be right for the traditional demographic of gamers twenty years ago, but it’s not quite as apt in 2020.
Gaming audiences are now more unique and diverse than ever and as such their needs have evolved. There is a growing section of gamers that do not constant action from their gaming sessions, instead they want to be completely immersed in a story.
This is where movie-like games such as The Last of Us come into the equation. Games such as these strike a fine balance between action game and immersive movie experience. Players completing the storyline get their chance to fight, to shoot, to run and hide as well as getting to enjoy lengthy, cinematic cut scenes.
This hybrid movie/game style has proved popular in the last decade and has been credited with attracting a significant number of new players to gaming.
Hundreds of millions of dollars can be invested by a Hollywood production company in actors, cinematography and location only to be rendered redundant by a damp squib of an ending. Daniel Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss ñ co-directors of HBO TV series Game of Thrones know only too well how a poor ending can tarnish the reputation of a piece of work.
In order to avoid disappointing audiences with a less than favorable ending or plot twist, many film producers are now looking toward the example of Charlie Brooker for their upcoming projects.
In 2018 British writer Charlie Brooker saw his creation Bandersnatch released on streaming service Netflix. The film took the idea of fantasy gamebooks which were popular in the 1980s and adapted it for screen.
The film allowed viewers to take an active role in the outcome of the film by choosing from a range of different options for the main character to take throughout the movie. The interactive film was a huge success, becoming a phenomenon on social media.
Bandersnatch‘s appeal seemed to perfectly straddle both gaming and film by giving viewers the real chance to affect the outcome of the plot. The films success has also inspired other film producers to explore the idea of interactive movies with some planned for release in the coming year.
Without collaboration and synergy between the gaming and film industries there was a very real risk of one becoming diminished by the other. Fortunately, both have looked to one another for inspiration and as such have formed a symbiotic relationship that bodes well for the financial future of both and bodes well for consumers.