Halo and the Video Game IP Battleground

9 March, 2023

The fifth annual 2022 Global Demand Awards winners were announced in February and it has been exciting to see which shows came out on top. This time around a new TV series category, Most In-Demand Series Based on Video Game IP, was created. With an outstanding level of global demand, the Paramount+ series Halo became the first receiver of this award. This TV show, which was based off of the Xbox exclusive videogame series of the same name, was not the only one of its kind to win in this year’s Global Demand Awards. For the first time ever, movie categories were included in the awards and one category in particular, the Most In-Demand Horror Movie in the World, saw Sony Pictures’ Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (based off of the Resident Evil videogame series) win first place.

With this Halo series, as well as a number of other adaptions, generating a lot of demand around the world, it is interesting to consider how videogame IP has been making waves in Hollywood recently. Last month Parrot Analytics’ Director of Strategy Julia Alexander, explored this with Derick Tsai, Head of Destiny Universe Transmedia at Bungie in an interview about how video game IP is becoming a big battleground for Hollywood. Tsai pointed out how videogame IP could become a profitable new avenue for Hollywood through new ideas and expandable franchises. This article will cover the demand for the Halo series, as well as how well up-and-coming videogame adaptions in both film and television are doing in terms of demand.


Over two decades old, the Halo videogame series has been somewhat of a staple in the gaming world - some even suggesting that it heralded in a new age of gaming. With this being said, it’s understandable the release of the Paramount+ series brought about a lot of anticipation. In her conversation with Tsai, host Alexander pointed out how gaming IP has the potential to be well-received by the coming generations, suggesting it could even be of a similar impact to that of the comic book IP in the later 2000s. With its fast renewal for a second seasonHalo could be a good example of success in this regard.

The chart below shows the global shift in demand during the first three months after Halo’s release in March last year. While the first week of release was at a good level, reaching 3.6 times more demand than the average series worldwide one day after airing, the series shot up to 24.7 times more global demand than the average series after two weeks. Following this, potentially due to word of mouth and a selection of good reviews that suggested the film wasn’t just for die-hard fans, the level of demand almost doubled on the 20th day, reaching 43.1 times more demand than the average series worldwide.


The Last of Us

One series that appears to be on the minds of many around the world is HBO’s The Last of Us, which was released on January 15 this year. The show, based off of the wildly successful horror game series of the same name, follows a smuggler as he escorts a teenager across a post-apocalyptic and zombie-filled world in the hopes of finding an antidote. The chart below shows the global demand for The Last of Us over the last month. The series had an exceptional 102.1 times more demand than the average series worldwide, while reaching a peak of 126.2 times more demand than the average series worldwide over the last 30 days.


Having been released just under two months ago, and still with two episodes left to air, it can be said the adaptation has made for a good success in terms of audience demand. The chart below shows some other avenues to measure the success The Last of Us has had over the past twelve months. Momentum (the indication for how fast the demand for a title has grown over the past twelve months) is understandably at an exceptional level - 120.6 times more momentum than the average series worldwide. Its travelability, which indicates the popularity of a series outside of its home market, is also at an exceptional level, with 59.2 times more travelability than the average series worldwide. These exceptional levels, as well as the huge amount of demand for it over the last month, make The Last of Us a good example of the success gaming IP can bring.


Mortal Kombat

While the previous mentioned adaptations show the possibility of great success for TV shows based on popular videogames, it is also interesting to consider demand for movie adaptations. Mortal Kombat, based on the popular Midway Games’ series, was released in late April of 2021 and saw a good level of success in terms of demand. The chart below shows the global demand for the film in the buildup to its release and the three months afterwards. The 15 days prior to its premiere saw a relatively quick increase in demand. Four days prior to its premiere, the film had 39.3 times more demand than the average film worldwide before it drastically increased to 87.9 times the demand average a day before release. The demand for Mortal Kombat peaked on the 11th day after its premiere, reaching almost 115 times more demand than the average film worldwide. The exceptional level of demand for this adaptation could suggest that demand for gaming IP reaches across both the film and television format.


The next big thing?

With the idea of what Star Wars and Marvel was for the previous generations, gaming could be able to step into those shoes for the newer generations across many different platforms. Furthermore, in their webinar,  Tsai and Alexander discussed how the ability for fans to immerse themselves into their favorite universe is a lot easier and more cost-effective when it is with a character skin or celebrity experience within a videogame than it would be to dress up and travel to Disneyland, for example. While the physicality of going to a theme park or wearing the costume of a favorite character is a unique experience on its own, interactivity is a central part of the gaming world. With this being said, it is important to note the added challenge of adapting a game, which has the player or players make decisions on behalf of the character, into a TV series or film, mediums that do not have that level of interactivity. While many recent films and series that have been based off of popular games have had a good reception in terms of demand, overcoming this interactivity challenge could be what makes or breaks the longstanding success of the gaming IP in Hollywood.

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