Gaming outfit Plarium is looking to turn its billion-dollar mobile game Raid: Shadow Legends into the next big TV and film franchise, with several new screen-based projects in the works.
Launched in February 2019, the turn-based fantasy game, which sees an ancient warrior assembling armies to battle the Dark Lord Siroth and restore peace and harmony to the fictional realm of Teleria, has been downloaded more than 75 million times and generated more than US$1bn (£800m) in revenue across platforms to date.
Plarium, owned by international mobile gaming giant Pixel United, developed and released the franchise’s first shortform animated series via YouTube earlier this year.
The 10×5’ series, titled Raid: Call of the Arbiter, told the origin stories of around 14 of the game’s 700-plus characters. While all the characters have backstories and bios explaining their histories, there is little dialogue in the mobile game. As a result, the series marked the first time the audience learned in depth about the characters.
The expansion of the mobile game into other visual mediums is being overseen by Plarium’s VP of creative Nicholas Day. Pixel United’s head of business development Gary Rosenfeld is also an exec producer of the animated series, while Eric Rollman, the former president of Marvel Television and Animation, was brought in to produce the shortform animated series and work on additional franchise extensions in the TV and film space.
The shortform animated series has garnered more than 25 million views on YouTube and a second season is in the works, with the goal of focusing on new characters in addition to building on the stories of characters featured in the first season.
The shortform series is the first project on the path to longform animation series, live-action series and feature films, Day told C21.
While, historically, adapting gaming franchises for television has proved challenging, recent successes including The Last of Us (HBO) have indicated that audiences are now more receptive and creators are more attuned to how best to adapt them.
“I don’t think you could have done this 15 years ago,” said Day of adapting Raid: Shadow Legends. “It’s only in the last few years with things like [Netflix’s] Castlevania and The Last of Us that you’re starting to see these adaptations enter the mainstream. The mainstream has caught up, where video games are no longer a sideshow in the public consciousness.”
He added that mobile games are often “sleeper” hits, generating billions in revenue and vast audiences but remaining somewhat unknown outside of the gaming audience.
Rollman, who worked on Activision’s 2016 Skylanders Academy adaptation for Netflix and earlier in his career worked on the first X-Men animated TV series, said the shortform Raid series will provide the basis for where the franchise goes next.
“The migration of IP from games to long-form content has not been a simple road, so we needed to prove to ourselves that we could do it right. That’s what we’ve done, really setting up the foundation for what we might do,” he said, adding that the team is giving careful consideration to how it walks the fine line of appealing to a broader audience while not alienating the existing fanbase.
The company is currently in discussions with companies about where potential TV and film adaptations could go.
Day said the expansion into TV and film is part of a “long-term strategic play” that he hopes will create a new entry point into the franchise – one that could potentially “outlive the game itself.”
The expansion into TV and film is also creating new avenues to create additional games based on the world of Raid: Shadow Legends.
“Raid has another five or 10 healthy years in it, but we’re also looking to piggyback on the work we’ve been doing with the series to solidify exactly what the franchise is and work on other games too,” said Day.