Netflix shocked everyone today with the news that they are developing a new live-action animated hybrid film for Beyond Good & Evil, and at the helm will be Pokemon: Detective Pikachu director Rob Letterman. It's shocking for a few reasons, one of which is that the original game in the series is beloved but was not a commercial success. The other main reason is that the second game in the franchise is still in development, and we haven't seen a lot from the prequel since a bigger showing in 2018, and even that was relatively early. So, it makes sense that some fans are taking to social media to express some frustration that they are probably going to get a film before they get the sequel they've been waiting on since the original game released back in 2003. That said, I'm here to break down why that might be for the best in the long run, especially for those who are hoping to actually get more of Jade's adventures down the line.
The Beyond Good & Evil prequel is set mainly in 2360 and is described as the golden age of piracy. As fans saw in the gameplay from 2018, you'll be playing as a space pirate crew before the world descended into darkness, which leads us directly into the world we first saw in the original Beyond Good & Evil. That story followed Jade and her father-like figure Pey'j (a delightful pig) as she tried to capture evidence to help the resistance and turn the tide against the tyrannical government running things.
Sounds awesome, right? You've got pirates, space battles, talking pigs, a conspiracy thriller, a killer lead, and the game's heart and humor all under this franchise's umbrella. The problem is that there are too many "what is Beyond Good & Evil" reactions to this news, and that tells you how out of sight and out of mind the franchise is right now. In fact, calling it a franchise at this point is premature, as that's assuming the second game releases sometime this century.
The sequel had a great showing in 2018, but even then most were just shocked that it was a game at all as opposed to marveling at what was there in its current alpha state. That means even if it drops tomorrow the most it can hope for is a word of mouth campaign of support, and that's probably not going to translate to commercial success, which all but guarantees we won't et a proper sequel.
That's why this news is actually a lifeline. Netflix has shown it can get a series in front of people and generate buzz, and while not all of their original films and series are winners, they are instantly put in front of an audience of around 192 million subscribers. If even 5% of that audience takes a chance on the film and gets intrigued, it's far more than they would muster just from game sales and traditional marketing alone.
If you've taken a glance at the massive timeline and lore that Michel Ancel is planning for the game's fiction, you understand how rich this world and its history is, and a Netflix film can help establish not only some of that lore but also the world's characters, world, and tone. A mainstream audience who had no idea about this franchise suddenly becomes aware and maybe even sets out to learn more about the original game, which is on several older systems courtesy of a remaster. That said, if interest is big enough in the film, this could also be what prompts Ubisoft to release an updated remaster or perhaps even a full remake on current or next-gen systems. Sure that's pie in the sky a bit, but I know it definitely won't happen without someone like Netflix helping to spread out the IP.
Netflix wasn't really clear on if the movie will be adapting the prequel or the original, but odds are it will be the prequel, and honestly, that might end up being better in the long run. I would personally love to see Jade get the spotlight, but if you're going all-in on this prequel, then use all the firepower you have to give it a fighting chance. Netflix provides that, and if you get people hooked on a fun cast of space pirates, then you can carry that momentum into the game. If that does well, you can justify either another game in that timeline or a true sequel to the original, and honestly the latter is what most fans want anyway.
Yes, it's crazy that we could get a movie before a proper sequel, and yes it might not be what you always envisioned a live-action Beyond Good & Evil to be. That said, indifference is a real threat to Beyond Good & Evil 2, and Netflix's involvement gives the universe and our true sequel hope a fighting chance.
So, what do you think? Let me know in the comments or as always you can talk all things gaming with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
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