Game Show Video Games aren’t Dead; You’re Looking in the Wrong Place

In many ways, video games and TV game shows share the same characteristics. They both offer potential rewards for completed challenges and there’s often a heavy reliance on technology to get the product across to the audience. However, there’s been very little crossover between the two entertainment niches during the past few decades, largely due to one major incident at the end of the last century.


In 1998, GameTek – the creator of video games based on Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Hollywood Squares, and Double Dare – went bust, with many of its assets heading to Rockstar and 2K owner, Take-Two Interactive. Given that game show and pinball titles were (almost) all that GameTek produced, its premature demise was a muted affair. It nevertheless marked the end of the game show in the 90s video game industry, though.

Source: Pexels.

Today, game show properties are much more likely to find their way to online casinos and bingo sites. At Betfair, for instance, when you play online bingo, you can choose from two rooms dedicated to the Deal or No Deal show. This long-running show was cancelled in the UK in 2016, after 3,003 episodes, but it did spawn two Nintendo DS games entitled Deal or No Deal (2007) and The Banker is Back (2008).

Beyond the 90s heyday, which also included American Gladiators (1991), the original French version of Fort Boyard is perhaps the only game show that continues to find an audience among video gamers. Developers Microids, Mindscapes, and a handful of others have made fifteen Fort Boyard titles since 1995, including three for the PlayStation 4. The franchise has been on a yearly release schedule since 2019.

Android and iOS

Ignoring GameTek’s bankruptcy, though, why have developers been slow to snap up new properties for conversion into a traditional video game?

Well, in truth, they haven’t. The absence of game show titles on home consoles is due to the fact that other media is more suitable for this storied genre. We’ve already mentioned online casinos and bingo websites but there are a number of official game show titles on mobile phones, namely, the Apple App and Google Play stores. A notable example is the British phenomenon The Chase: Ultimate Edition by Barnstorm Games.

The reason for this switch from console to mobile is due to demographics. Arguably, the casual genre of video games never really existed until the development of the mobile app, which is perhaps why the number of console game show titles can be counted on a few fingers, between GameTek’s collapse and the present day. As both mobile gaming and game shows share much the same casual group of players and watchers, it makes sense that developers would make an effort to unite these two disparate worlds in a new generation of gaming apps.

So, overall, the popularity of game show-based video games depends entirely on where you’re looking. It’s an almost dead genre on traditional gaming systems like the Xbox One but Jeopardy!, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, and Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire? are all thriving on Android and iOS.

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