Perfect Ten: MMOs with live-action media tie-ins


Every so often I think to myself that a video game should get some kind of media adaptation before I come to my senses. Like, imagine a Final Fantasy VII movie! Except then you should imagine compressing the game’s story down into a two-hour film and you realize that’s a bad idea, and then you remember that a movie based on the characters actually happened, and… well… it’s probably the most interesting film the franchise has seen? A fact that speaks well of nobody involved? Yeah, never mind.

However, despite all of this, there are actually a lot of MMOs that have tied in with some form of media. At first I thought it was just a couple, then I slightly expanded my definition and realized this actually happens all the time. Sometimes it produces something good, sometimes it produces absolute drek, but it can all fill out a list! And to be clear, I am limiting this specifically to games where there is at least a proximal temporal relationship; while it’s true that there were movies about Conan in the past, Age of Conan was definitely not connected to them in any fashion.

This worked out real nice.

1. Defiance

It’s easy to forget at this point that the whole idea behind Defiance when it first launched was that it would tie into an ongoing television series that could best be described as “We Ordered Firefly From Wish Dot Com” before that became a common joke format. (Also before everyone realized that if we had gotten more seasons of Firefly, no one would have wanted more seasons of Firefly. Among other things.) The show was pretty all right, but it turns out this wasn’t a great idea. Oh well.

I just felt like running.

2. Lord of the Rings Online

I imagine that for some younger folks it can be hard to really internalize what a gigantic impact Peter Jackson’s films had on people’s perception of the Lord of the Rings as a whole. They weren’t the first film adaptations of the books, they weren’t hugely invested in cross-promotion without just cause, and they certainly were not the first wildly popular fantasy films (although they definitely went over better than some other previous efforts). But they were hugely impactful on interpretations of the property, and it seems very clear looking at Lord of the Rings Online that this influence has been felt top to bottom. In a good way, mind you.

for lyfe mean for LYFE

3. Star Trek Online

When Star Trek Online first came out, the Star Trek franchise was in a weird place. The live-action television series had sputtered out after the disappointing and awful Enterprise, and we were a year out from the Star Trek reboot film that tried to make the original Star Trek sexier and more modern but also retro-chic and… yeah. But it turns out STO has weathered the years with a remarkably inclusive attitude toward all this franchise’s many permutations.

We's friemd

4. Final Fantasy XIV

“Wait, didn’t that series based on Final Fantasy XIV die on the vine?” Yes, it did, but it would have been the second anyway! Dad of Light is an extant miniseries about a young man connecting with his father via FFXIV, which even shot live play footage on actual servers. No, it’s not adapting the story of the game into another medium, but it is a story about the actual experience of playing these games. That’s probably the way to do this anyway.

Have fun ascribing these characters motivations in the comments! The film sure as hell doesn't.

5. World of Warcraft

For example, you could have the Warcraft film, which does try to adapt the game story! Badly. Very badly. I remember watching this in the theaters for work, and then I rewatched it again wondering if maybe I was just unusually cranky at the time, and… nope! This is still just bad, bad filmmaking from top to bottom. I stand by every negative thing I said in that review, it’s all true, Han Solo Force Awakens gif goes here.

This was a thing.

6. Marvel Heroes

While I am not and was never a fan of this game for many reasons, one thing you cannot claim is that it didn’t know how to take advantage of the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a thing. Or really any adjacent property, to be fair. It’s a melange.

This will not be featured.

7. DC Universe Online

Meanwhile, the DC universe is somehow… still playing catch-up. A lot of digital ink has been spilled on this, we don’t actually need to talk about it today, I am not being paid to write thousands of words about comics industry minutiae at this point (although by all means, call me if you want to, I’ll goddamn do it, darling), but I suspect that if DC Universe Online shut down tomorrow, it wouldn’t leave the sort of lingering wound in the MMO genre that Marvel Heroes did. And it was definitely not helped by the fact that the DC movies were basically uncontrolled train wrecks with very few exceptions. But at least the game capitalized on the increased visibility! Sort of.


8. The Matrix Online

Did you forget about this one? It might be kinda best if you did because it seems clear from the last movie that the people who are in charge of the story certainly did. But it was an interesting idea about where to go after the initial trilogy, to keep the story moving along even after the films were over. What did “peace” look like after the cameras stopped rolling?

It looked like more war, basically, but different. Which, to be fair, was also part of the conclusion of the more recent coda to the trilogy. I really liked that movie; it was a nice send-off and wrap-up. Some choices I disagreed with, but it still brought everything I liked about the prior films. I maintain that people don’t totally get what the Wachowski sisters do with their movies; it’s been this way for years, and Matrix sequels get a bad reputation because – wait, no, also not being paid for writing thousands of words about this. (But again, y’know, I’ll do it for a paycheck. I gots things to say.)


9. Star Wars: The Old Republic

“Wait a sec,” you say. “This doesn’t make sense. Why would Star Wars: The Old Republic be here while Star Wars Galaxies isn’t? Aren’t both games equally eligible?” And the answer is no but mostly because of a very minor trivia detail, since both games are very clearly more of a one-way thing, pulling in imagery and allusions to the source rather than feeding into it.

The trivia detail, though, is about the Hammerhead Corvette. This is a common ship seen in the Knights of the Old Republic games and in SWTOR which was rendered non-canon… that then got brought back into canon in the live-action film Star Wars: Rogue One. In other words, by a very technical definition, it got brought over and it connects now! Any minute now they’re going to bring Jizz back as a genre and the great Jedi Soon Bayts. That’s the only logical conclusion.

it's not even on a teevee

10. Fallout 76

Oh, yeah, this is happening! It looks all right. Sure, it’s focused on the whole franchise and not just Fallout 76, but the interconnected thing is kinda the whole deal. I don’t know, dude, it isn’t my thing, but hopefully the fans are here for it.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
Previous articleUbisoft debuts AI NPC prototypes at GDC, and it went about as well as you’d expect
Next articleEverything we learned about the future of Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, & Champions Online from Cryptic’s stream

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments