Netflix’s ambitious plans for the gaming market


Stefan Powell

Think Netflix and a series or movie you watched on the streaming platform. What did you remember? From the “Bridgerton” series? “Stranger Things”, perhaps? The company wants games to compete for a place on that list soon.

Netflix says gaming is a key part of its bid to remain relevant to audiences for years to come, and is slowly moving away from plans to offer more gaming experiences to subscribers.

“Gaming is one of the greatest forms of entertainment out there today, so it’s really just a natural extension for Netflix to include it as part of the subscription,” says Leanne Loombe, Vice President of Outdoor Gaming at Netflix, to BBC News.

“The boundaries between the different ways we enjoy our entertainment are blurring. When you’re in that moment between sitting down and watching a movie or being more active and playing a game, we want to make sure we have something for you.”

“Our goal is to have games for everyone. Not focusing on creating a great experience, but rather on a selection of titles that members can choose to play.”

Since November 2021, games have been available on the Netflix app, but this has gone unnoticed by many users. Loombe says the streaming service is deliberately not “screaming” about the news and is instead taking its time to first understand the market.

So far, what is being offered are mobile games, some linked to famous Netflix franchises (such as “Stranger Things”) and others independent of the service (such as Reigns: Three Kingdoms).

They are currently only available on mobile devices, but tests are underway to see how they could work on TVs and computers.

The game inspired by 'The Queen's Gambit' is one of Netflix's bets

The game inspired by ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is one of Netflix’s bets Disclosure/Netflix

For gaming journalist Shay Thompson, this low-key approach is a sensible move, because the industry is “full of failed attempts” by traditional media brands that have tried to break into the gaming world.

“When other mainstream entertainment organizations tried to get into the gaming space, they really struggled,” says Thompson. “I think a lot of times this is because companies don’t fundamentally understand what games are and what makes them so attractive to gamers.”

“Amazon Games is a case in point. They had titles like Lost Ark and Crucible with big budgets, but those titles lacked the creativity and uniqueness that we’ve come to expect from games. That’s a significant reason why those titles didn’t end up making an impact. strong.”

Experiences like this and that of the giant Google, which closed its Stadia gaming platform this year, show how difficult it is to find a place in the gaming business.

Amazon’s gaming division may not yet be as successful as its Prime Video operation, but we still expect to see more in the future. The company is working, for example, on a Tomb Raider franchise game.

But, so far, none of their releases have challenged the popularity of games like Fortnite or Call of Duty.

“Focusing on mobile games first is a smart strategy that could work in Netflix’s favor,” says Thompson. “It seems like they’re taking the time to understand the landscape and the players. I know their reputation has been a bit shaky on the streaming side of things lately, but it certainly feels like they’re trying to work with the gaming business, not against it.” .”

“However, giving players what they want, rather than what the big organizations think they want, will be key to making this work.”

Going forward, Loombe believes Netflix will further expand its intellectual property.

“Connecting shows, movies and games from our universes is what we are trying to do”, explains the vice president of the company’s games sector.

In a modern office in central Liverpool, England, that’s exactly what the team at Ripstone Studios is trying to do.

Amidst exposed brick, succulent plants and pop culture embellishments are developers and programmers creating the next update to their first partnership with Netflix.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is, as you might have guessed, a chess simulator based on the adventures of the main character of the series, Beth Harmon.

The team won the contract after Jaime Brayshaw, the creative executive, suddenly emailed Netflix. “I asked them, when will Netflix become the Netflix of gaming?!” he says, laughing.

Netflix is ​​investing in games in a 'discreet' way

Netflix is ​​investing in games in a 'discreet' way

Netflix is ​​investing in games in a ‘discreet’ way – Disclosure/Netflix

Ripstone, which has a long history of producing chess games, became one of the first companies to partner with the streaming giant to work on offering games.

Brayshaw says the relationship isn’t just a licensing deal, but a “collaborative partnership,” with both companies sharing expertise with each other.

In addition to offering more content to Netflix customers in an increasingly competitive market, Brayshaw believes the collaboration is a chance to also help propel gaming as the most popular form of entertainment. “Netflix currently has an audience of 238 million people,” he says.

“Many of them have never played a game before, so we had to think about creating something that would be accessible to as many people as possible, even if they’ve never played a game.”

“It’s exciting because it allows more potential people to experience the joys of gaming, and that could boost the medium’s popularity.”

Confident that the collaboration will bring benefits for both sides, Brayshaw is not worried about joining the long history of failed games, movies or series.

“Yes, there are many bad examples from the past, but there are usually timelines involved in that. [na falha]”, he argues.

“Netflix has a more mature approach where products don’t need to be tied together at launch, so fewer compromises are needed.”

By focusing on mobile titles, which are cheaper to produce than big console releases, there is less financial risk for Netflix.

However, the flip side of the coin is that, in such a competitive industry, if users aren’t impressed with what’s new, they’ll quickly move on to something else. It can be difficult to win back an audience that has already migrated to other games.

As Netflix’s Loombe reiterates, “We’re at the beginning of our gaming journey. When it comes to an industry as big as this, where there are already some fantastic titles that gamers really love, we just want to make sure we’re doing the right things. things the right way.”

Source: Folha

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