Are you an author or an ardent lover of all-things-books? Maybe you get excited every time they make a movie based on a book you love.
Okay, maybe you cringe a little when you find out that ‘Oh! This scene was not in the book’ or ‘I can’t believe they changed this dialogue. It was so much better in the book.’
But, at the same time, you probably also cannot help but wonder about the exorbitant amount of money these films make.
Also, writers whose works these movies are based on get their fair share of royalty, too.
Now, what if we told you that there’s a similar trend catching on in the domain of online video games?
Dozens of extremely popular and well-made games are based on books or a series of books. Some are direct adaptations while others have taken just the characters or the setting of the books.
Do these writers make revenue from these games? We’ll talk about it shortly.
Right now, let’s take a look at 10 video games based on books, which include some widely popular classics as well.
1. The Witcher Series
Perhaps the most popular video game based on a literary work, ‘The Witcher’ has been adapted from six fantasy novels and 15 short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski.
Sapkowski’s debut short story, titled ‘The Witcher’, got the author to participate in a competition organized by the ‘Fantastyka’ magazine, back in 1986. The first story was so popular that the author ended up writing a whole series.
And that’s not all. The series was made into a movie called ‘The Hexer’ and into two TV shows.
The games were the series’ most widely accepted adaptation, though. The games involve the user / gamer following Geralt of Rivia in his journey of battling fierce monsters and demons.
2. Assassin’s Creed
‘Assassin’s Creed’ was first released for Playstation and Xbox in 2007. And, since then, it has only risen in popularity, winning awards as the series progressed.
Although not a direct adaptation of any book, ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is loosely based on Vladimir Bartol’s 1938 novel, ‘Alamut’. In his novel, Bartol describes the acts of the Hashshashin, a group of assassins. In the books, their actions were portrayed in a somewhat negative light.
The video game, on the other hand, changed the narrative and presented the assassins as ‘doers of good’. Even while deviating from the plot, the game maintains some highly admired dialogues of the novel, such as ‘Nothing is an absolute reality, all is permitted.’
3. Call of Cthulhu
American author H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, was published in 1928 in a magazine called ‘Weird Tales’. This story of the horror genre has been successfully adapted into various forms, including movies, graphic novels, other short stories, and even songs.
The story’s first foray into the gaming world, surprisingly, happened in 1981, much before the technically advanced games that we know of today.
But, of course, the most popular versions that reached avid gamers are ‘Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth’, the 2005 release and its sequels.
In this game, the gamer role-plays the titular character, Cthulhu, going about facing horrific beings and objects, some of them as vivid and graphic as the ideas in Lovecraft’s story.
4. I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
This classic game of 1995 is one of the rare examples where the author of the book was also the co-creator of the storyline of the video game.
Author Harlan Ellison published a short story by the same title back in 1967.
Set in the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world, the storyline follows the lives of five people who were the last living humans on earth. And they get constantly tortured by an AI-powered supercomputer.
In the video game, Ellison plays the voice of the supercomputer. The story was later adapted into a graphic novel, a radio play, and Ellison’s own rendition of an audio collection of different parts of the story.
Spelt S.T.A.L.K.E.R in the gaming world, this one is loosely based on the novel ‘Roadside Picnic’ by author brothers Boris and Arkady Strugatsky.
Published in 1972, the novel traces the adventures of stalkers, who are people trying to steal objects left behind by aliens in restricted zones.
The novel and its translations won several awards in the years that followed.
The widely popular game as we know it today was adapted in 2007. The game changes the narrative quite a bit, but retains certain key points such as the idea of the restricted zones and the nature of the valuable artifacts in the zones.
The book also inspired many other subsequent video games, television series, plus manga and anime series.
6. Metro 2033
Another post-apocalyptic survival game, ‘Metro 2033’ gets its name and its storyline from Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same name, published in 2022.
Fortunately, in this instance, the author has been credited for his ideas in creating the plot of the game.
The game follows the book’s setting of a subway station in Moscow destroyed by a nuclear holocaust.
As in the book, gamers follow the protagonist Artyom’s journey as he rebels against dominating political forces to fight alongside an independent alliance, all formed as a result of the mass destruction wrought upon the city by the deadly holocaust.
7. Parasite Eve
The novel ‘Parasite Eve’ by Hideaki Sena was first published in Japanese in 1995. It was later made available in English in the year 2005.
The novel revolves around the sci-fi notion of mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cells in our body – taking over humans.
As interesting as that sounds, the game that was later developed with the same name does not follow the plot of the novel. Instead, it serves as a sequence to the novel.
This serves as an out-of-the-box adaptation concept where the franchise caters to two very different, yet somewhat similar, kinds of audience – the reader and the gamer.
Before the game adaptation, the novel was also made into a movie and a manga series.
8. 80 Days
Readers passionate about classic novels would be happy to know that contemporary literary works are not the only ones inspiring the creation of video games. The classics have their say as well.
One of the popular games based on a classic novel is ‘80 Days’. As you may have guessed, this mobile game is based on Jules Verne’s ageless novel, ‘Around the World in 80 Days.’
In the game, you play the role of Phileas Fogg, Verne’s famous protagonist, and travel the world with his manservant, Passepartout.
The difference is that in the game, you get to choose your travel itinerary, make tough decisions along the way, and end up discovering many different anecdotes about the well-known and lesser-known destinations of the world.
9. Dante’s Inferno
The depth and finesse of Dante Aligheri’s 12th-century poem ‘Inferno’ may have been lost on the makers of this video game.
That’s okay. There have rarely been poets who are as elusive as Dante. But the 2010 action-adventure game does stay somewhat true to the rings of the purgatory, as described in the poem.
In the game, the player follows Dante, armed with several magical weapons, as he fights through supernatural modes of attack in the various levels of the underworld.
While the concept of souls moving through levels of hell as per their sins committed on earth remains similar, the game is an action-packed rendition of the thoughtful and philosophical analysis of human souls in Dante’s original masterpiece.
10. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
No action-fantasy list, whether in books or in the gaming world, is complete without the mention of a J.R.R. Tolkien classic!
Over the years, there have been countless adaptations of plotlines and characters from the vast expanse of works by the ‘Lord of the Rings’ author. Most of these games have failed to live up to the expectations of gamers and fans of the franchise alike, with ‘Shadow of Mordor’ being one of the few exceptions.
Released in 2014, the plotline of the game occurs chronologically between ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. Familiar names and characters from the trilogy, such as Lord Sauron and Gollum, appear here and there but the narrative of the game mostly follows new characters.
This is an interesting way to merge the huge fan-following created by Tolkien’s ‘the One Ring’ with avid gamers who love to participate in make-believe but realistically developed fights with magical weapons.
So How Can Writers Monetize from Video Game Adaptations and the Metaverse?
Now, let’s talk about whether the writers of the books that inspired these video games make / made any revenue out of these games.
The answer is, not so much. Well, at least, until now.
Thanks to Web3 tools, writers can now create NFTs of their books, plots and characters and host them on a platform like Supercraft, while game designers can purchase these NFTs to develop their games.
This way, it is a win-win situation for both teams.
The game developer gets to work on a magnificent, thrilling plot and you, the writer, get fairly paid for all your hard work.