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In this definition of "video game", I am purposely excluding visual novels. By "video game", I generally mean anything you can play on a console (e.g. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Fire Emblem, etc...).

So most anime that airs each season is adapted from some form of source material, like a manga, a light novel, or a visual novel. Why aren't video games adapted as often? Sure, there are a few out there (Valkyria Chronicles, MapleStory, Devil May Cry, and of course Pokemon, to name a few), but overall, anime adapted from games tend to be much less frequent than those adapted from LNs or VNs.

Why is this? Why don't bigger title games (like the aforementioned Chrono Trigger or one of the many Final Fantasy games) get full-length anime adaptations? (I'm also not counting those small OVAs or side story series that have nothing to do with the actual in-game story either).

  • I suspect part of it might be because the plot of a video game might not work [as] well into an animated series, whereas a manga can have the same plot style and elements as an anime. It's not hard to take a manga and animate it, because the story is often just "transferred" onto the screen (with some changes of course), but games are often different in plot style and sometimes more open-ended, making it more difficult to put on screen. Those are my thoughts anyways. – Sultan of Swing Jun 18 '15 at 23:35
  • Also, there might just not be a demand for it--a game is often "enough" for the audience and they enjoy it just the way it is. And sometimes, the game developers don't want an animated series version of their game. – Sultan of Swing Jun 18 '15 at 23:38
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    Games are about gameplay. And gameplay is chronically hard to turn into non-interactive medium. – Euphoric Jun 19 '15 at 6:29
  • I'm confused as to why this was closed as generating answers that are primarily opinion-based. The OP stated that "anime adapted from games tend to be much less frequent than those adapted from LNs or VNs" and asked "Why don't bigger title games get full-length anime adaptations?" I debunked the statement with statistics that anime adapted from games are more frequent than anime adapted from VNs, and answered that big title games do get full-length anime adaptions with increasing frequency. Neither part of the answer relied "almost entirely on opinions." – seijitsu Jun 19 '15 at 11:16
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    I see nothing about this question that is "primarily opinion-based". It is certainly a very difficult question to answer, but that does not mean that factual (or otherwise reasoned) answers cannot be provided. I have unilaterally reopened this question; please post on meta if you feel this was inappropriate. – senshin Jun 19 '15 at 11:57
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Data about anime adapted from video games does not always separate out genres as you would like (you seem to be primarily interested in RPGs, but data about anime adaptions may generally group RPGs along with other games such as children's games, dating sims, visual novels, etc.), but according to page 8 of Anime and the Visual Novel: Narrative Structure, Design and Play at the Crossroads of Animation and Computer Games by Dani Cavallaro (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010) and Manga, Anime and Video Games: Between Adaptation, Transmedia Extension and Reverse Remediation by Stefan Werning,

manga and anime based on digital games appeared much later [than video games]; for example, series like Fate Stay/Night (2006) have been developed as adaptations of existing visual novels. . . . Sword Art Online (2009-2014), Accel World (2012) and Btooom! (2012) is constructed around a fictional video game. This phenomenon can be partially explained in the context of films referencing (digital) games as plot elements or even as narrative structures. . . . adaptations of popular game franchises such as Super Mario Bros. (Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel, 1993) or Street Fighter (Steven E. de Souza, 1994, Figure 2) were first produced for an international audience [in other words, not produced for Japanese demographics].

And according to Mélanie Bourdaa's "‘Following the Pattern’: The Creation of an Encyclopedic Universe with Transmedia Storytelling," (Adaptation 6, no. 2, 2013: pages 206 and 211) and Werning,

Even though many of the anime series represent adaptations of light novels, the games usually do not cover the “canonic” stories from the novels but rather pick up loose ends and elaborate on the characters, often in unusual ways, thereby adding to the “multiplicity” of the franchise.

Wikipedia's List of anime based on video games evidences that the number of anime adapted from video games has been dramatically increasing within the past decade. By "full-length" anime adaptations, if you mean a TV anime of any length, including the current trend of series that are 10 to 12 episodes in total, the number of these has been greatly increasing as compared to the situation in the 90s or the 80s. It is not an overstatement to predict that the percentage of all anime produced which are video game adaptions is likely to rise in the next decade.

See senshin's answer to Are anime that are not based on manga common?: during the 2000s, anime adapted from video games have maintained a sizable chunk of all TV anime produced and has increased in percentage since 2006. You can see in the graph that video games have gotten adapted into anime more often than visual novels have. See also Why does anime air in 4 seasons per year of ~13 episodes? and What are the reasons for producing short-form anime?

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    Interesting data. The chart especially helps. Indeed, I was mostly focused on console RPGs, and probably should have phrased the question as such. The only concern I have with the data is, as you mentioned, how "games" are classified (I would consider a "dating sim" to be a VN, for instance). The Wikipedia link also includes a number of titles that are based on VNs or are OVAs/spinoffs. – empire539 Jun 19 '15 at 20:14
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    By "full-length" adaptations, I intended to mean one (12-13 episodes) or two-cour (24-26 episodes) series, rather than single or multiple episode OVAs or specials. Sorry, I should have clarified this in the question. – empire539 Jun 19 '15 at 20:16
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Logically speaking, it's a game - therefore, its role is to make people play it. Say you made an anime based on it, that may result in people playing the game, but it would also result in paying weekly for the animators to work on it (even though they already made plenty of money from the game itself). Also, there's no point making one, as it would potentially give spoilers, as seen in titles such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, which both have in depth stories. Remember, making a game is more complex and harder than animating.

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