Former Netflix exec Erik Barmack and Prague-based Warhorse Studios are developing a live-action makeover of “Kingdom Come: Deliverance,” a video game set in the Medieval Holy Roman Empire, which has sold over 3 million copies, making it one of the biggest games in its genre.
Set up at Warhorse and Wild Sheep Content, the L.A.-based company that Barmack launched last year after departing Netflix, the adaptation, which may become a movie or series, is produced by Barmack and Warhorse Studios CEO Martin Frývaldský. They have started to reach out to potential writers and directors.
The Czech Republic deal comes hot on the heels of a development pact between Barmack and Sega for video game franchise “Yakuza.”
Both deals show Barmack, the former Netflix head of international originals, zeroing in on what he calls “amazing, non-U.S. worlds that are locally relevant, but with a regional and global popularity that streamers are looking for as they become more and more global.”
“It’s especially interesting that video games with heavy narrative, like ‘The Witcher’ and ‘Kingdom Come: Deliverance,’ are uniquely adaptable, and local but global all at once,” he added.
A 2018 action RPG, “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” was developed by Warhorse Studios and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Set in 1403, at a time when different warlords sought control of the Holy Roman Empire, the revenge epic turns on Henry, a blacksmith’s son whose parents are slaughtered when Cuman mercenaries burn his home village, Skalitz, to the ground, on the orders of the King of Hungary, Sigismund.
Henry survives the massacre, and joins Lord Radzig, who is building a resistance to Sigismund. Avid to avenge his parents, he becomes embroiled in a bloody civil war against a background of shifting political alliances.
Released in 2018, “Kingdom Come: Deliverance,” an open world format, stood out for its deeply immersive potential in a fully constructed world built with meticulous historical accuracy. Players are offered 16 combined clothing slots, a plethora of armor and weapon choice while fighting: Combat becomes a matter of attrition. Clothes get dirty and need washing; if a baker gets killed, a village soon runs out of bread.
At its inception, “Kingdom Come” was rejected by many big publishing houses, Frývaldský recalled. “Everyone wanted some magic in games, and we were offering a game where you start out as a blacksmith’s son, can become some kind of hero, but never get to be king,” he said.
“The biggest feedback we got from the gaming community and reviewers is that this is a very believable and also very relatable story where it is easy to identify with a not so heroic hero,” added Tobias Stolz-Zwilling, PR manager at Warhorse Studios.
Drawing a parallel between the video game and TV industry, there’s been an assumption, Barmack noted, that until very recently blockbuster global games could only emanate from the U.S., that smaller budget games don’t pick up global audiences. “‘Kingdom Come’ has debunked that notion. That’s super important,” he added.