More games should try Quantum Break's game/TV show hybrid idea

When Quantum Break came out two years ago, it brought a twist to video game story-telling: long, live-action episodes, akin to a television show. This new idea was met with mixed opinions across the gaming community. Some thought that it was well-made and complimented the gameplay perfectly, while others felt that it took away from the gameplay itself and that it was poorly produced.

Read: Quantum Break for Xbox One review

Regardless of how anyone felt about it, though, I believe that at some point in the future, game developers should consider giving this idea another shot. Quantum Break's iteration may not have been perfect, but it did show us the potential.

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A new layer of depth

One of the biggest advantages that a companion TV show like this would provide for games is the ability to explore characters in the story that would normally get little screen time otherwise in the game. Most video games place the protagonist in the spotlight, while leaving the minor characters in supporting roles. There's nothing wrong with that, but often times I think to myself that it would be nice to learn more about these other people in the story.

With this companion episodes, though, the writers have a perfect medium in order to explore those characters. Since the protagonist will get most of his or her development during the video game, writers don't need to worry about the main character in these mini-films. Such was the case in Quantum Break; instead of following Jack Joyce, the hero of the story, the TV show episodes for the game instead chose to expand on the antagonists of the story.

By doing this, we got to learn who these people were, why they were doing what they were doing, and we got to see everything from their perspective. These are all things that could have been relegated to small segments within the game, but then that would take away from our time with the protagonist.

Potential goes both ways

As great as I think this design can be, it's also critical that it's done well. Otherwise, it can end up being harmful to the experience. One way that this could happen is if the episodes are too numerous and frequent. If this ends up being the case, then people who enjoy the gameplay and not the episodes will likely be annoyed that they'll be constantly pulled away from what they enjoy.

The solution to this is to make the episodes something you can skip. However, this leads me to my next point: Making sure that the episodes are not necessary in order to understand and follow the main story. Because not everyone will like the TV show aspect of the game, the content within them needs to be non-essential so that people won't miss anything crucial to the narrative by skipping them.

It's also worth noting that making this idea a reality is undoubtedly a very expensive process, too. It's already expensive to develop a game, so setbacks from producing a live-action companion show will make the overall project even more costly. It's unlikely that companies will pour this much investment into a title unless they have very strong confidence that it will sell exceptionally well.

Your thoughts

What do you think of this concept? Do you think that more games should try to make it work in the future? Let me know.

Quantum Break is available on Xbox One for $19.99.

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

26 Comments
  • Game is also on Microsoft store, and Steam just fyi. I loved QB, especially its story. Sad that it wasn't a blockbuster cuz #SaveBeth.  
  • Personally I thought Quantum Break was hot garbage; it was a great plot that was hamstrung by buggy and unresponsive gameplay.  The companion episodes seemed like an afterthought that they tacked on at the last minute, the production value definitely wasn't up to par with the rest of the game. I bought it because I wanted to support Microsoft's early efforts of what would become Xbox Play Anywhere; played through it once, haven't touched it since.
  • Does streaming the full video parta work well? Otherwise download size is monstrous.
  • Does streaming the full video parta work well? Otherwise download size is monstrous.
  • I totally disagree. I don't pay good money for a gaame just to be subjected to a movie or ridiculous cut scenes.  That was the one thing I hated about Privateer.  It did something similar.  I want to PLAY THE GAME. I don't care about character development, plot complexity, whatever. I watch actual movies for that. NOT gaming.
  • Have you played Quantum Break? If so, was it on PC or Xbox?
  • Then skip them, QB didn't force you to watch them. It was a great concept and execution for a game's storytelling. Some of us actually enjoy stories in our games and actually feel like they rival TV or movies. Some even actually prefer gaming (especially with stories) to both of those combined.
  • I agree but I do think they should of used the live action parts as cgi as they looked amazing. QB was a good game imo but I thought Alan Wake was a far better game and love them to do a 2nd one.
  • Yeah, I'll play casual games when I don't care about story. For my real gaming though, I want to feel like the main character in an epic series. That requires great story, plot, characters, and twists.
  • Exactly. That's why there's so many genres and so many types in those genres of games out there. There is something for everyone's taste and mood.
  • Defiance did this too... I thought it was a fantastic game and show.
  • Loved QB, I liked having the break from game play now and then and still being tied to the story. I wish they would make more like this.
  • Quantum Break proved that a hybrid was such a stupid idea. It was an expensive experiment that failed, the production quality was so cheap, the characters irrelevant and it was utterly pointless in elevating or pushing forward the narrative, not to mention it totally broke any immersion the player once had when playing the game. Cutscenes are the way to go, it's easier to suspend your disbelief and be immersed in the game when watching well-rendered cutscenes making for a coherent gaming experience. 
  • Maybe a lilo long but It's just cutscene, hybrid or not... maybe lengthy-story-driven isn't your cup of tea. I especially enjoyed the tech tho. The shader is insane, game mechanism can be better, but unique nonetheless. They've already spend resources into making the system, hope they get a chance to make a sequel. Reuse the system and spend resources into content making this time.
  • It would have been so much better without that obnoxious Charlie dude. Ugh.
    I'm not sure I agree though, what if a game like Halo did this? I don't think that'd go over well
  • I was too scarred by Mark Hammil in Wing Commander III and the numerous 3DO games that used live action cut scenes to further a game plot to even try this game. 
  • QB actually used the live actions parts really well as they functioned as a TV series tying the game together. They are also nothing like the 3DO or MegaCD games that used FMV to replace the gameplay or Wing Commander III that used live action for ALL dialog.
  • Gaming should provide back story in gaming mode.  Example would be Blade runner 2049.  Make an episodic companion 15 years ago.  I watched the featurette that made watching the actual blade runner enjoyable.  Another example i thought perfect are Game of Thrones.
  • Won't appeal to everyone. But O enjoyed it immensely. Had an incredible story and visuals. Alot of people weren't happy with the gameplay. Mostly because people thought it was supposed to be a cover based shooter. When in actual fact the game was designed so the player used the powers in battle. You could learn to literally float through battles without ever touching cover at all. That was the idea. Not to Gears Of War style the game. Very much like Heavy Rain in terms of you either love it or hate it. No in between with this game. That said it's probably the best cinematic experience in gaming I've ever had.
  • That's a great way to put it.
  • Yeah I would agree that QB is a bit like Marmite.
  • Absolutely agree with you. Love Quantum Break!
  • the gameplay in this was a lot of fun 
  • QB was a good game. If you haven't tried it, it's absolutely worth 20 bucks.
  • I wished some game developers put half the thought and effort into story telling that this game did. Sure the overall game ,and even the previous Alan Wake, could have been better, but they weren't BAD games. They tried to do a unique TVesk game that was more than your average 3rd person shooter or adventure game. Remember, people even had problems with Remedy's other series that even got its own movie, Max Payne, which really didn't do anything outside of the box like TV episodes.
  • I don't agree. Defiance tried it first, and it didn't work out. A good game was hurt by the poor console hardware and lack of massive following for the show, I think. Quantum Break lacked enough content or meaning in choices, and I feel that is partially because they committed WAY too much to have these high-profile actors and make the show. I would have much preferred more game content and decision making that had a real impact on the game as a whole.