Television is becoming a full fanboy for video game adaptations.
Earlier this month, Amazon greenlit a new series based on the award-winning PlayStation game God of warof Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins and The expanse creators Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby on board.
HBOs The last of usa highly anticipated small screen version of the 2013 action-adventure game from Naughty Dog and Sony, created by Chernobyl‘s Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, one of the game’s original directors, drops on January 15.
They join a long list of game-to-series adaptations, from Halo (Paramount+) to Twisted metal (Peacock) and Horizon (Netflix). Next war gameAmazon is also moving forward with its TV version of the post-apocalyptic strategy game Falloutedited by West world creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan.
All adaptations hope to benefit the games’ dedicated base of hardcore fans. But Cyberpunk: Edge Runners, the hit anime series launched by Netflix earlier this year, has done a little more. Almost single-handedly, the series rehabilitated the game it was based on: Cyberpunk 2077.
Flashback to 2020. Polish video game company CD Projekt is excited about the success of its global franchise hit The witcher — which had just been adapted into a hit Netflix show starring Henry Cavill — released its new title, Cyberpunk 2077: a sci-fi adventure story set in a future world where biotech advancements have become the norm and the boundary between the physical and the digital is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Arguably the biggest game release of the year, it came with gigabytes of hype, thanks in part to the participation of Keanu Reeves, who appears as a (non-playable) cyberpunk mercenary in the game’s open world, the megalopolis that known as Night City.
Then came the backlash. The first release was buggy and prone to errors. Customers complained en masse. Some of the game’s investors even sued CD Projekt, claiming they were misled (the company settled the lawsuit out of court for about $1.85 million). Patches and updates followed and Cyberpunk 2077 became the hit everyone counted on, selling over 20 million copies worldwide. But the stain remained. For many gamers, the first unsuccessful release was made Cyberpunk synonym for disaster.
Until Cyberpunk: Edge Runners. Soon after, the Netflix series was announced Cyberpunk 2077s arc at video game trade shows E3 in Los Angeles and European Gamescom, but before backlash against the game had begun. By the time the series hit screens — Netflix bowed the show on September 13 this year — expectations, at least from video game buffs, were low.
They were wrong. Cyberpunk: Edge Runners was a hit. Set in the dystopia of Night City about a year before the events of the video game, the series focuses on a teenager (voiced in English by Zach Aguilar) who becomes an “Edgerunner” – a mercenary hacker – to to survive. the show immediately jumped onto the Netflix top 10 most watched (non-English) shows worldwide. In its first week online, between September 12 and September 18, the show was viewed approximately 14,880,000 hours, according to Netflix’s own figures.
Equally impressive, the show is one of the highest-rated ever in Netflix history, with a 100 percent Rotten Tomato score.
“We didn’t set out with an audience and we didn’t expect this success,” said Saya Elder, producer and English localization director for Cyberpunk: Edge Runners. Speak against The Hollywood Reporter at the last edition of the Lucca Comics and Games fair, where the CD Projekt booth was flooded with thousands for five days Cyberpunk fans. “For us, Edge walkers should have been a good series, but we weren’t expecting a hit. The showrunner, Rafal Jaki, told us, ‘I have to do something I like that feels like my own; if it is, others will love it too.’”
That helped Edge walkers was animated by popular Japanese anime studio Studio Trigger and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, the team behind series like Kill La killed and Star Wars: Visions. And that the series stopped at a time when anime is booming worldwide.
“Anime can conquer boundaries and other divisions with their own quirks,” says Elder. “In the US, there is an increase in anime fans. The public is no longer biased. Things are different in the industry, even with regard to video games. The source material has been disrespected for a long time and we have seen the results. However [now] things are changing.”
The success of Cyberpunk: Edge Runners even restored the tarnished reputation of the original game. For elder, the lesson of Edge walkers is to never give up: despite the backlash over Cyberpunk 2077CD Projekt kept pushing forward to make Edge walkers as good as it could be, considering fan feedback in crafting the series’ storyline, which many reviewers consider an improvement over the game’s original.
At the moment there are no concrete plans for a second season Edge walkers, but, says Elder, she doesn’t rule anything out. “We invite our fans to keep following us. We will not abandon them.”