On July 24, South Korean game developer Smilegate had incredible news. The 36-episode drama series based on its first-person shooter game “CrossFire” has recorded 100 million views in China.
The drama series, also named “CrossFire,” reached this milestone on July 23. Tencent Video, China’s largest streaming website, housed the drama. With over 900 million mobile users, it’s easy to see how “CrossFire” became so popular.
Launched in 2007, “CrossFire” is the most popular FPS game in China. It has an accumulated global revenue of 12.6 trillion won ($10.4 billion). “CrossFire” is also the first Korean professionally played esports game turned into a drama series.
According to a Smilegate official, even with only two episodes aired, “CrossFire” enjoyed more than 100 million views on Tencent Video. This makes it the second-most popular drama series on the platform.
“CrossFire” is an esports drama that connects two players from two different times. They meet by chance within the game. In 2008, esports hadn’t reached its peak popularity. Captain Xiao Feng (Lu Han) struggles to keep his fighting team together. All while younger players belittle him. In 2019, Lu Xiao Bei (Leo Wu), a genius fighter stuck in a wheelchair, loses the chance to sign on with a national team. The gaming world sees both players as losers within their own time. Through a radio signal of game magic, the pair joins forces to overcome their challenges and succeed in the game.
The trick with any drama based on a video game is to sell the game mechanics. Both “Love O2O” and “The King’s Avatar” took the viewer into the world of their game. The first chose to realize the characters as their human counterparts with game backgrounds. The latter fully digitized the players.
“CrossFire” goes for something in between. The show seamlessly blends live-action with moments of digital overlay so that the viewer never forgets they are in the digital world. The graphic violence blurs at the moment of death, so you never see gore. But the show leaves you with the unmistakable knowledge that the player is eliminated. Handy when people are shot in the head.
Eleven episodes are out, and various drama sites have subbed the first handful. The action sequences are exciting and choreographed well, so the viewer feels like part of the game. There are a lot of first-person perspectives of the fight sequences that place you in the action.
Lu Han, known for wooden performances in the past, expresses common frustrations well. He portrays a gamer who refuses to admit he is getting older in a sport younger players are taking over. Lu Wei always gives us great performances, and the viewer can sympathize with the hardships he faces. Both actors do well in these roles so far. I look forward to seeing where the story will take us as they join forces across time and space.