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Why Do Production Companies Turn TV Shows Into Games?

When a production company has a hit TV show, it’s almost inevitable that they will consider transitioning their story over to a video game.

We at Dragon Ball Z Games have been around since 2012 bringing joy to our players.

The most popular example of this in recent times has been the Marvel universe. The highly successful films spawned several new video games that could piggyback off of the movie franchises success.

Today we are going to take a look at the various reasons that production companies and rights owners decide to make their shows into games. To help us discuss this comprehensively we are going to be referring to a real life example throughout this article.

Dragon Ball is arguably one of the most popular animated shows to have ever existed. There have been several incarnations of this highly successful franchise, but the version we are going to be mainly referring to is Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z is widely regarded as the version of the franchise that catapulted it into the history books as a hyper-popular show. It arguably changed the way the west saw Japanese anime in the mainstream, and its influence altered the course of western TV programming permanently.

Dragon Ball Z was first made into a video game in the 1990s, it was first released on the now largely forgotten Famicom system. Since that initial game, a new Dragon Ball Z game has been released nearly every other year. This makes it one of the largest video game franchises of all time.

But why did they do it? And why is it so successful? Let’s find out…


Ok, let’s start with the most obvious reason any company does anything. Money.

Making a video game is no small task. It requires thousands of man-hours of highly skilled (and highly paid) developers to create a product that will meet ever expectations. It’s an incredibly risky venture that requires a significant investment. It’s far from a sure bet, and many games never cover the costs of production.

However, by creating a game around an already existing brand that has a large following you are significantly reducing the amount of risk involved in creating a game. You know already that there are a large amount of people out there that will be interested in the game. And as such, you can be a little more confident in it generating a positive ROI.

It’s not exactly rocket science, and it’s not really what we are here to talk about today…

But it needed mentioning.

The Fans

Dragon Ball Z has an almost cult-like following. People dedicate their lives to learning every little bit of backstory about every character.

The most dedicated fans become invested in the characters, regularly analyzing and interpreting their interactions between one another. They make predictions and educated guesses to fill in the blanks of their lore. They collect every single bit of information they can, and then they try and collect more.

Simply put, when shows get a cult following like Dragon Ball Z, the producers owe something to the fans…

They have created this wonderful universe and filled it with interesting dynamic characters. They have written hugely popular storylines and they have beautifully animated each and every second of it.

The producers of Dragon Ball Z are superfans themselves. They live and breathe the show. They understand what it’s like to be a fan. And while we are under no illusion that money is the primary reason Dragon Ball Z games are made – it’s far from the only reason…

They also do it for the fans.

The amount of joy that these games bring to fans is immeasurable. Being able to interact with and control a character that you know so well from the shows is an exhilarating experience. The interactive nature of video games allows the players to connect to the characters in a personal and somewhat intimate way.

Now we are sure no true Dragon Ball Z fan would claim that the video games can replace the show. That would almost be blasphemy to some people.

But there is no denying that the video game versions of the show allow a totally different level of intimacy and interaction (that the show could never create). It allows for complete immersion in the Dragon Ball universe, in a totally different way.


The final reason we would like to touch upon before we end this article is the suitability of the Dragon Ball franchise (that makes it perfect to be made into a video game). Here we are mainly talking about two things, the animation style and the combat nature of the show.

The animation style of Dragon Ball is hand drawn manga. It has been widely acclaimed for its vivid artistic styles that convey action, and emotion in a way western shows never previously could. Recreating this style in a video game is reasonably easy, and highly effective (on modern consoles).

Some of the more recent games look identical to the show in certain cases. The colors are exactly the same, the character models are drawn by the same artists, and the voices are voiced by the same people. (Another good example of this is the hugely popular South Park video game adaptation “Stick Of Truth”).

This makes the whole experience much more immersive and really makes the player feel like they are literally controlling an episode of the show.

The second reason the show is so suitable to be made into a video game is the nature of the show. The fact that Dragon Ball Z is a show based around mythical “superheroes” with god-like powers fighting each other makes it perfect to be made into a video game.

Fighting games have been around pretty much since the first consoles. They are a well known, and much-loved game format that anyone can pick up and play. Dragon Ball Z is so well suited to this that the whole show could have been custom designed to be a fighting game.

The nature of the characters and their special abilities is absolutely ideal. The powers that are available in the show put some of the more traditional fighting games like Tekken and Street Fighter to shame. Sure doing a Hadouken with Ryu in Street Fighter is fun…

However, you are never going to surpass the feeling of playing as a Super Saiyan Goku and landing a perfect Kamehameha on the head of Cell?
It’s just too satisfying…