Entertainment

‘The Last of Us’ Could Upgrade the Reputation of Video Game Adaptations. The Thing Is, Americans Already Liked Them

The majority of U.S. audiences, gamers think Hollywood has done a good job adapting video games into movies and TV series, per a new Morning Consult survey

Image of Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal as Ellie and Joel in HBO's
Bella Ramsey (left) and Pedro Pascal in a scene from the third episode of HBO's "The Last of Us." About 2 in 5 gamers said they are interested in watching the series, according to new Morning Consult data. (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

HBO’s “The Last of Us,” based on the post-apocalyptic video game of the same name, has already been hailed as the best Hollywood game adaptation of all time. The series is seen as a potential savior for a genre that for decades had been widely perceived in the entertainment industry to be, well, terrible.

But Americans don’t necessarily buy into that perception. About half of them, in fact, say they’re pretty happy with Hollywood’s attempts to turn video games into TV shows and movies, according to a new Morning Consult survey.

The survey also reveals that gamers are slightly more likely to be interested in adaptations of their favorite games today than they were in 2021 — and even then, a clear majority of them said they were interested, despite the genre’s reputation.

Americans Actually Think Hollywood Has Done a Good Job Adapting Video Games

Respondents were asked if they think Hollywood has done a good or bad job of adapting video games into movies and TV shows

Survey conducted Jan. 11-13, 2023, among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Maybe they’re not that bad?

  • Half of U.S. adults think Hollywood has done a good job adapting video games into movies and TV shows, while 60% of gamers (those who indicated they play video games during an average week) said the same.
  • Gen Zers (66%) and millennials (65%) were more likely to say that Hollywood has done a good job of adapting video games into movies and TV shows, compared with Gen Xers (54%) and baby boomers (31%).
  • “Sonic the Hedgehog” (50%) and 2018’s “Tomb Raider” (50%) tied for the highest favorability rating among gamers when presented with a list of recent adaptations, followed by “Sonic the Hedgehog 2″ (48%), 2021’s “Mortal Kombat” (48%) and 2004’s “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” (46%).
  • About a third (34%) of gamers had a favorable opinion of 2022’s “Uncharted,” which starred Mark Wahlberg and Tom Holland. The Sony Pictures’ adaptation was panned by critics, receiving a 41% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes — but earned a 90% audience score.
Gamers Still Interested in Seeing Their Favorite Games Turned Into TV Series, Films

Respondents were asked if they would be interested in a film, TV series or book based on their favorite video game

Surveys conducted Oct. 12-15, 2021, and Jan. 11-13, 2023, among representative samples of 1,604 and 1,554 U.S. adults who play video games during an average week, respectively, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 and +/-3 percentage points, respectively.

Younger generations are most interested in video game adaptations

  • Half of adults said they would be interested in a film, TV series or book based on their favorite video game, while 65% of gamers said the same. The share of gamers who said they are interested in video game adaptations went up 5 percentage points from 2021.
  • Meanwhile, the share of avid gamers (those who indicated they play seven or more hours of video games during an average week) who said they are interested in a film, TV series or book based on their favorite video game spiked 9 points, from 69% in 2021 to 78% in 2023.
  • Similar to in 2021, interest in adaptations was highest among Gen Zers (76%) and millennials (68%), though interest among millennials dropped 9 points from 2021.

What’s next for Hollywood’s video game adaptations 

“Uncharted” and the “Sonic” films dominated domestic and global box offices, which could be a good sign for Universal Pictures’ “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” out in April. The recent Morning Consult survey shows that more than half (56%) of gamers are interested in watching the film based on the group of iconic Nintendo Co. Ltd. characters. 

The film will try to continue the momentum started by “The Last of Us,” which has been universally praised by critics and gamers (and even non-gamers) since its Jan. 15 debut, and drew the second-largest debut for an HBO premiere since 2010, with 4.7 million viewers. The survey found that around 2 in 5 gamers (41%) said they are interested in watching the series.   

Co-created and written by the Emmy-winning “Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin, “The Last of Us” may have cracked the code with critics as the rare video game adaptation on a prestigious network run by acclaimed showrunners, based on a beloved narrative. Amazon.com Inc.’s upcoming “God of War” and “Fallout” series, based on the popular games of the same names and produced by “Westworld” creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, are next in line.

The Jan. 11-13, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.