Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 25, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 25, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Newell: Game-Makers Are Best Equipped To Turn Games Into Movies
Newell: Game-Makers Are Best Equipped To Turn Games Into Movies
August 30, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

August 30, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

Gabe Newell, CEO of Half Life developer, Valve, has claimed that Hollywood directors lack "understanding" of what makes a video game property interesting for fans.

Speaking to PC Gamer, Newell revealed that Valve has turned down numerous pitches for film adaptations of the studio's flagship series, Half Life .

"There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood. Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they'd bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story," he said. "And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of."

It was as a direct result of these meetings that the studio began to explore filmmaking in-house, beginning with a series of short animated advertisements to introduce the various characters in Team Fortress 2 ahead of the game's release.

"That's when we started saying 'Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we'd have to make it ourselves.'," Newell said. "And I was like, 'Make it ourselves? Well, that's impossible.' But the Team Fortress 2 thing, the Meet The Team shorts, is us trying to explore that."

Newell argues that a game's developers, as keepers of its vision, are best-equipped to put together a film version of the property. "As a World of Warcraft player, I would much rather that the WoW team made the movie than anyone else," he said, in reference to the forthcoming movie adaptation of the MMO.

"I like Sam Raimi, I've been a fan ever since Evil Dead came out, but I would rather see Blizzard making the movie. We think that customers are like, 'OK, we're kind of sick and tired of the way you guys are slicing and dicing the experience of being a fan of Harry Potter, or Half-Life, or The Incredibles, and you need to fix it.' I think that the people that fix it will be rewarded."

Related Jobs

Giant Sparrow
Giant Sparrow — Playa Vista, California, United States

Lead Artist
Digital Extremes
Digital Extremes — LONDON, Ontario, Canada

Digital Extremes
Digital Extremes — London, Ontario, Canada

Generalist Programmers
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Unity Engineer


Gonzalo Daniel
profile image
Great article, and shows a great thing about Valve that many other game companies lack, and is respect for its IPs an therefore, its fans. And exactly this article touches the real reason most if not all videogame movies are simply horrible: they arent focused towards the average gamer but the overall movie viewer that may have never played a game in his/her life, which then forces the movie to create a context for every single viewer and then, at this point, it seems that no writer in the movie business has touched the game hes supposed to write about and deliver not only a bad story/context, but one that has NOTHING to do with the game.

My insides fear as well with the World of Warcraft movie, and I just hope Blizzard has the nerve to cancel the whole thing if it looks bad, something like they did with Starcraft Ghost.

And the Team Fortress clips are simply amazing. Way to go Valve, you guys really know how to run your thing.

Tim Carter
profile image
There's nothing as dangerous as a little bit of expertise.

Jonathan Gilmore
profile image
I think most game movies fail because they are targeted at gamers. Or, at least, the studio thinks they are. The only game adaptation that I can think of actually intended to be a mainstream blockbuster was Prince of Persia, which was supposedly a decent if not great movie.

Most studios license a game property, estimate based on its popularity how big the audience will be, budget for that, and make a piece of garbage.

Also, superhero movies for characters like Batman have exposition and establish the character and setting, why wouldn't a movie based on a video game property do the same? If a Halo movie ever happens I'm sure we will hear about the Spartan program, human space exploration et al.

Also, I can't imagine how a movie where the protagonist doesn't even say one line could be an artistic or commercial success (unless he/she is a mute of course). Why should the audience be compelled to care about him? I certainly didn't care what happened to Gordon Freeman when I played, despite the fact that I enjoyed the game immensly. The narrative requirements for a game and for a movie are totally different.

Benjamin Quintero
profile image
I've been asking myself this question since Mario Brothers the movie came out. I'd rather see something like "meet the team" in feature length than some crappy movie "influenced" by the source material. Even real-time cut scenes are reaching that early Pixar quality, and fans of the games would appreciate it.

Sadly Microsoft kind of made this same mistake when they farmed out all of those Halo mini anime's. None of them reflected the visuals of the in-game assets or feeling of Master Chief storyline, and it was a little off-putting for me. I would have preferred to see a feature length of the same/similar quality to the in-game cut scenes.

Timothy Ryan
profile image
First off, we already had a movie based on the WoW IP - it's called Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. I jest, but the heart of my joke is a sad truth. Story has been second to gameplay for so long in games that at best it's derivative, at worst it's poorly executed. How many guy w/gun versus aliens movies have been made? How deep is our typical game hero's character?

There are without a doubt a bunch of hack writers out there, especially those most willing to transition from film or tv to games, but I would argue that video game makers don't necessarily know how to write for the big screen either.

You remember the Wing Commander movie? That was made by the director and producer of the game series. Hit game, crappy movie.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
profile image
Wonder what Realm/Race/Class our boy Gabe plays. Is that a hint about their next title?

Mortal Kombat was tight ^^ Most of the time movies make the ip too kiddy.

Alexander Kerezman
profile image
It's worth mentioning that the people at Valve have repeatedly demonstrated a firm grasp of universal storytelling principles - not just game-story expertise. You need a good story well told before you can have a great movie, and the guys at Valve seem to have learned what those are made of (especially with each subsequent Meet the Team).

Beyond knowing the game and understanding the gaming experience, it's essential to know how to create good stories, period.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kade Dunn
profile image
I love Gabe!