Here is a truly ridiculous article about the Western in the wake of The Lone Ranger‘s box office debacle. Don’t click through. The article wants to declare the Western passe, albeit with regret, because white men can’t address the issue of Indian history. Or something like that. Politics is the reason failure is imminent. The rebuttal to these arguments write itself.
However, I bring it to your attention for a different reason: it reinforces my Achievements theory. I will now declare that the reason a Western movie has not gone blockbuster is because no game developer has made the prequel version. Red Dead Redemption, as I understand it (chime in here, Stu), is considered a great game in the Western genre, but it is not the kind of story or gameplay that leads to a movie. The same with Fallout: New Vegas. A fabulous game in the Western (and apocalypse) genre, it doesn’t lend itself to a mainstream movie experience. Both games are Western derivatives, in a way.
Imagine, though, an RPG Western that touched on the classic themes. What if it had the scope of Skyrim, with mining dungeons and Indian communities and frontier towns trying to grow? The storytelling difficulty would be the villain. Fantasy, sci-fi, or super-evil bad guys, which have all been tried, don’t feel true. An engaging story with moral choices that lead to different outcomes would be a bestseller, I believe. For instance, some version of The Magnificent Seven would make a knockout game.
Regardless, I suspect no movie will succeed first. Hollywood is too regimented and risk-averse. Gaming will have to take the lead and reinvigorate the genre. I look forward to that experience.