Battlefield video game to be made into TV series by team behind Mr Robot

Most, if not all, game adaptations for film are terrible. Perhaps it’s a fundamental incongruence between cinema and interactive narratives. Maybe it’s because film executives have miniscule amounts of imagination when deciding how to adapt a game. Whatever the case, they tend to stink. 

That relationship may change, with an announcement from Paramount that the Battlefield series of games is to be made – not into a film, but into a TV series. The production company behind True Detective and Mr Robot, Anonymous Content, will adapt the game, with Academy Award-winning producers Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta helming the executive producer roles.

“EA’s Battlefield has an incredibly dynamic narrative, coupled with a loyal fanbase, which will allow us to bring this exciting and unique property to the small screen,” said Amy Powell, president of Paramount TV.

Emphasis there on “loyal fanbase”. The Battlefield series of games is one of the biggest franchises and commands an enormous audience of players. Those players can get quite attached to their favourite game: Battlefield 1’s reveal trailer has close to two million likes on YouTube. When rival franchise Call of Duty revealed its newest iteration, upset fans and Battlefield 1 advocates pummelled the trailer into the ground – it has more than three million dislikes at the time of writing.

So what will Anonymous Content do with Battlefield? The video-game series doesn’t have a single period or character set, with various entries being set in WW1, WW2, the Vietnam War and the near future. This large scope could give the TV show’s creators a great deal of freedom when building a story. It does however raise the question of what would tie the show to Battlefield, rather than any other war-set narrative. 

“Battlefield has a tremendous built-in, engaged fanbase, making it a highly coveted piece of IP primed for long-form adaptation,” said executive producer Michael Sugar. “Together with EA and Paramount TV, we’ll develop the Battlefield TV series with the same commitment to robust storytelling that has made the game such a runaway success for nearly 15 years.”

Whatever “robust storytelling” actually means, Anonymous Content’s previous experience with character-led dramas Mr Robot and True Detective gives hope that the adaptation will have some depth. My advice would be: don’t make it like a game.

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