Everyone Wants to Be the Next ‘Game of Thrones’

From The Wall Street Journal:

Who will survive the Game of Clones?

The hunt is on for the next epic fantasy to fill the void left by the end of “Game of Thrones,”the HBO hit that averaged 45 million viewers per episode in its last season. In television, film and books, series that build elaborate worlds the same way the medieval-supernatural saga did are in high demand.

“There’s a little bit of a gold-rush mentality coming off the success of ‘Game of Thrones,’” says Marc Guggenheim, an executive producer of “Carnival Row,” a series with mythological creatures that arrives on Amazon Prime Video in August. “Everyone wants to tap into that audience.”

There’s no guarantee anyone will be able to replicate the success of “Thrones.” Entertainment is littered with copycats of other hits that fell flat. But the market is potentially large and lucrative. So studios are pouring millions into new shows, agents are brokering screen deals around book series that can’t get written fast enough and experts are readying movie-level visual effects for epic storytelling aimed at the couch.

. . . .

Literary agent Joanna Volpe represents three fantasy authors whose books now are being adapted for the screen. “‘Game of Thrones’ opened a door—it made studios hungrier for material like this,” she says. A decade ago, she adds, publishing and TV weren’t interested in fantasy for adults because only the rare breakout hit reached beyond the high-nerd niche.

. . . .

HBO doesn’t release demographic data on viewers, though cultural gatekeepers say they barely need it. “You know what type of audience you’re getting: It’s premium TV, it’s educated, it’s an audience you want to tap into,” says Kaitlin Harri, senior marketing director at publisher William Morrow. By the end of the series, the audience had broadened to include buzz seekers of all kinds with little interest in fantasy.

The show based on the books by George R.R. Martin ended its eight-year run in May, but it remains in the muscle memory of many die-hard fans. “I still look forward to Sunday nights thinking that at 9 o’clock I’m going to get a new episode,” says Samantha Ecker, a 35-year-old writer for “Watchers on the Wall,” which is still an active fan site. The memorabilia collector continues to covet all things “Throne.” Last week, she got a $15 figurine of Daenerys Targaryen sitting on the Iron Throne “since they didn’t let her do it in the show.”

. . . .

“Game of Thrones” has helped ring in a new era in fantasy writing, with heightened interest in powerful female characters. Authors generating excitement include R.F. Kuang, who soon releases “The Dragon Republic,” part of a fantasy series infused with Chinese history, and S.A. Chakraborty, whose Islamic-influenced series includes “The Kingdom of Copper,” out earlier this year.

For its fantasies featuring power struggles that might appeal to “Thrones” fans, Harper Voyager uses marketing trigger words like “politics,” “palace intrigue” and “succession,” says David Pomerico, editorial director of the imprint of HarperCollins, which like The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

17 thoughts on “Everyone Wants to Be the Next ‘Game of Thrones’”

  1. The next game of thrones?
    Probably The Witcher on Netflix or Watchmen on HBO.

    Further down the road, Wild Cards on Hulu.

    • That’s exactly how “The Witcher” for Netflix was described to me. I have been assured that Netflix is not the one making it. Netflix’s writers seem a little dim, so I’d expect a trainwreck if they were the ones writing “The Witcher” show, which HBO’s writers apparently caused for GoT TV fans. I’ve been told the game writer is behind the show, which sounds promising.

      And this ties in to Kris Rusch’s recent posts about licensing one’s stories. If the Witcher-game writer didn’t sign any Hollywood / tradpub-style contracts then he’ll cash in from the boost created by the Witcher-show. And the Witcher-games brings a built-in audience for the Witcher-show.

      Also the long-tail effect. For some reason GOG.com gave me the enhanced edition of the first Witcher game. I already had a review copy on CD from years before. Both versions have been sitting on my shelf / cloud, similar to the fate of many a free e-book on a Kindle. Now I’m thinking of actually firing up the game. If I like it I’ll buy the sequels, all of which are available on GOG. Since there’s no “going out of print” with indie, a creator in this situation cashes in again.

      I do hope the writers of the books behind these new shows didn’t sign monstrous contracts that keep them from raking in $$$.

      • Actually, there is a !ot more to Witcher than the games.
        If anything, the games are a “sequel/spinoff” of the books.
        Of which there are a bunch:


        “Geralt the Witcher-revered and hated-holds the line against the monsters plaguing humanity in this NYT bestselling series that inspired the blockbuster Witcher videogames. Soon to be a major Netflix series.

        For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.

        Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world – for good, or for evil.

        As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt’s responsibility to protect them all – and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

        Blood of Elves is the first full-length Witcher novel, and the perfect follow up if you’ve read The Last Wish collection.

        Witcher novels
        Blood of Elves
        The Time of Contempt
        Baptism of Fire
        The Tower of Swallows
        Lady of the Lake
        Season of Storms

        Witcher collections
        The Last Wish
        Sword of Destiny

        The Malady and Other Stories: An Andrzej Sapkowski Sampler (e-only) ”

        The books are very popular, just less so in the US.

        • This is a quickie intro to the series:


          What looks to make it GOT-ish is that it looks like it’ll be set around the third book and fill out the back story on the fly, via flashbacks, much like GOT and ARROW. And, like GOT, the fems are at least as big a part of the story as Geralt.

          A similar scenario looks to be in store for WATCHMEN which is not an adaptation of the original but rather a non-sequel follow up set decades afterwards.

          Wildcards will most likely have to follow the same format because there’s so many novels and so many characters in the series. (22 I think).

          I’m not sure which way Amazon’s crew will follow with Wheel of Time (14-17 massive novels) or the Tolkien prequel but those might best be covered linearly.

          As to the games, I have WITCHER 2 and 3 and both are excellent but as euro-RPGs (a rarity of sorts) they are closer to FALLOUT and DRAGON AGE 1 than JRPGs or classic PC isometrics. They drop you in the world to make your way through it as you wish. Or can.

        • For the game, favorable comparisons to Fallout and Dragon Age: Origins is a selling point.

          I didn’t know about the books. An Amazon reader-review to “The Last Wish” says, “Each story was as if Conan was dumped into the Grimm’s Fairy tales. But all is not grim. Lots of humor present is reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.”

          Selling point!

          It looks like the author has hit the licensing trifecta for fantasy / sci-fi creators: Book, video game, and TV series.

          The books are very popular, just less so in the US.

          Ah, the e-books are published by Hachette, with Hachette pricing, so the Kindle editions are only a tad less expensive than the mmpb editions, $7.99 vs $8.74. I would be curious to see if the prices become more competitive once the TV series gets going. Not holding my breath…

            • I’ll look for that. Right now I’m awaiting a releaste date for Baldur’s Gate III, which if you notice from the trailer, has a “Stranger Things” vibe — the Mindflayers are the prime villains in both.

              The game is being made by the same studio behind the Divine Divinity games, which I’ve never played. I believe it’s not a continuation of the Bhaalspawn saga, but it’s own thing. The guard in the trailer is a member of the Flaming Fist, the watchmen of Amn. I’m crossing my fingers that BGIII going to be worth the nearly 20-year wait since BG II.

  2. In the publishing world, A Song of Ice and Fire was the next Wheel of Time. Now, in the TV world, The Wheel of Time is going to be the next Game of Thrones. It’s already in production at Amazon. The next GOT is the late Robert Jordan’s series, hands down, no competitors. And it’s already complete, 14 volumes, unlike GRR Martin’s series. GOT and WOT, two of the best TV series ever made.

  3. What made GOT so popular were:

    1- Accessibility – the show boiled down to a pair of easy to grasp conflicts and did not try to immerse readers in a complex magic system or require them to learn a complex mythology. (Note the decline of STAR WARS after abandoning the simple light vs dark family saga formula.)

    2- Gender appeal – the cast featured a variety of characters and actors that appealed to viewers of box sexes. It’s demographics reached showed a fairly strong balance between male and female viewers. The books are reported to have essentially and 80/20 male-female split but the TV show data is closer to 60-40 (42% female, in fact).


    3- Unpredictability – unlike many (most shows) that hew closely to established genre tropes and often telegraph their big twists — Walking Dead, Babylon 5 (clear proponent of the PowerPoint theory of writing) — GOT managed its plot twists exquisitely. Few seemed contrived, most were well-rooted in on-screen events and easily justifiable within the show context, and it made it clear no character was safe.

    Any show aspiring to follow in GOT’s footsteps will have to check out all three of those as well as bring in something distinctly unique. There will be no doubt a horde of contenders and pretenders, especially dynastic high fantasy, most of which will be really more of the same…just different. (Slightly.)

    The winner will the one that puts its source material above the formula.

  4. Really ? We’re doing this ? The next Game Of Thrones might be a western, a Hollywood gossip story , a historical drama or damn near anything else. You can’t catch lightning in a bottle. The HBO heave hitter when Game Of Thrones came out was supposed to be Boardwalk Empire. Remember That. Following all those criminal protagonist things they HBO was so successful with. GOT was the Genre Throwaway until the killing started and it captured the spirit of the age.

    • WATCHMEN is a conspiracy mystery in a world of superheroes.
      WITCHER is about a monster killer.
      WILD CARDS is about the lives and foibles of superheroes in a world of heroes and monsters.
      Even WHEEL OF TIME is more Tolkienesque than GOTish.

      None of the real contenders are terribly close to GOT, only the pretenders.

      My money is still on WATCHMEN.

      It’s not as if there are any alternatives other than “none of the above”

  5. I’m eagerly awaiting the Temeraire series. Last I read, Peter Jackson had optioned the books by Naomi Novik. They were great fun. The Napoleonic era in which every major power had aerial forces composed of sentient, talking dragons. And she totally sold it with a historical voice, great characterizations (especially of the dragons), and fun conflicts.

    • Those could be fun but I suspect they’ll end up like Jackson’s HALO or The HONORVERSE TV series.
      Still, between the rise of the streamers and ever-improving tech there’s room for a lot of the great series.
      I was kinda sorry to see Dresden Files and Blood Ties end. Both were fun.

      What I really want to see is LENSMEN, starting off with Galactic Patrol. Modern effects and writing plus Smith’s vision? Guaranteed winner…but still to pricey to do right.

    • You are an advanced civilization that can build galaxies.

      – How do you have children?

      You build a copy Earth, with a command and control center called the Island, that seeds a crop of humans to be harvested for use by your civilization.

      In the past, looking at the cave at the center of the Island, a golden glow was clearly spilling forth. In the present that golden was clearly missing. The billions of recording devices, the “Sparks” had gone out into the world to record people’s lives. Final harvest was near.

      People live and die, then the “Sparks” return to the Island to be stored in VR, known as “The Sideways”. People were run through as many virtual lives, and as many variations as needed to make them more useful for your civilization.

      The final season showed two narrative threads. The Present real and the Future time in the Sideways. The ending, when the people were harvested, had them moving to their next life.

      BTW, Those people that had trouble with the final season will be run through Sideways as often as needed until they are useful.

      After all, waste not, want not. HA!

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