TBI Tech & Analysis: Unpicking Prime Video’s strategy for ‘Fallout’

Fallout (Source: Amazon)

Amazon Prime Video’s release of Fallout marked the streamer’s first video game-based TV series. With the show now a month old, Omdia’s Juan D. Villegas analyses the launch strategy and its early impact.

Amazon Prime Video released the Fallout TV series on 10 April, marking the latest addition to the video game-based trend.

The company decided to release the whole first season in its totality and its reception has been broadly positive. According to IMDb, the series has an average review of 8.6/10.

Fallout (Source: Amazon)

Fallout is not, of course, the first video game-based series, but it is the first for the Amazon Prime video service. It follows the ongoing trend of cross-media IP and video game adaptations on film and TV.

Fallout‘s plot deviations

The development of the Fallout series was first announced in July 2020 under what used to be Amazon Studios, later renamed Amazon MGM Studios. It would be directed by Jonathan Nolan, who also worked on the HBO show Westworld.

Although it is the first video game-related work from the producers, it was created with lore rather than a single entry in mind.

This has served as a good strategy for the studio because it does not leave a comparison window between the show and any of the mainline titles of the franchise, in addition to building and expanding the universe of the game’s IP.

Now, the question of whether this series is a hook to attract new subscribers to the platform is interesting. The series has the potential to appeal to a now quite big gamer demographic, which has evolved from being a youth-dominated media to an entertainment medium that spans all ages.

In addition, those who are not Prime customers but players of the franchise (which was first released in 1997) will likely subscribe to watch the series.

The main competitive advantage of Prime Video is that it is included as part of the Amazon Prime membership, which to date is available in more than twenty territories and it is virtually available to a remarkable number of consumers.

In addition, Prime includes membership for streamers on the video game live-streaming platform Twitch. Omdia estimates the number of active Prime Video subscribers to have stood at 157 million by the end of 2023 (see Figure 1). That is a considerable basis for the show, which has had a great reception over its first week.

Prime Video’s big bets

Amazon Studios have had relatively big TV investments over the last few years, including The Rings Of Power, which at the time was the biggest budget for the Studios with $100–150m for the first season.

Fallout is also its first video game-based TV series, albeit there is The Legend of Vox Machina, which itself is based on a web series called Critical Role, which is based on voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.

Fallout has a recurrent post-apocalyptic theme from the big hit of 2023—The Last Of Us, which premiered on HBO and was heavily inspired by the original game storyline, released in 2013.

The Last of Us (Source: WBD)

There were different aspects that made The Last of Us successful: a large following, a focus on storytelling, and a TV writer adapting to the format. Fallout has followed a similar queue, leading to fans of the franchise praising it after its release.

A plausible strategy for cross-media IP

Amazon had an interesting marketing strategy. During the release window, it is also making a few titles from the franchise (Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 3) available through Prime Gaming to play on Amazon Luna – the company’s cloud gaming platform – and Fallout 76 through other platforms such as PC and Xbox.

When compared to the other adaptations that have been presented as movies or series, Fallout stands with The Witcher, Arcane and The Last Of Us, which have an average rating on IMDb of 8.1/10, 9/10, and 9.2/10, respectively.

From a video game sales point of view and based on GSD data, Fallout 4, the latest entry, had a weekly increase of 7,500% in sales in Europe and managed to feature as #1 in addition to Fallout 76, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 3 featuring in the 8th, 9th and 10th spots respectively.

On the other hand, the number of players on the popular Steam platform went up from 20,785 on April 11, to 80,755 by Thursday, April 18, peaking at 93,294 players on Wednesday, April 17.

Fallout (Source: Amazon)

Video games nowadays have the advantage of much more developed stories, in addition to a public that has grown up with video games as a medium for entertainment. This set great pillars for video game adaptations, which can now have multi-generational appeal, creating high-value IPs worthy of investment in storylines and production.

As of the first half of 2023, Netflix had the most video game adaptations in its development pipeline (11), with Prime Video following with four, whilst other players remain conservative with one, admittedly due to more constrained budgets.

This, however, shows that these adaptations have a strong base to draw attention to, serve to bring novelty into content strategies, and ultimately provide a good alternative in an increasingly saturated content market.

This article was first published by Informa-owned research unit Omdia, which is the sister organisation to TBI.  Juan D. Villegas is a research analyst for Media & Entertainment at Omdia.

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