Netflix: Streamer's expansion into gaming is 'natural extension'

Netflix: Streamer's expansion into gaming is 'natural extension'

Postby dutchman » Wed Aug 30, 2023 10:05 pm

The Queen's Gambit game is a chess simulator based on the adventures of the series' main character Beth Harmon


Think of Netflix and a memorable television show or movie will likely pop into your mind.

What did you most enjoy? Squid Game? Bridgerton? Stranger Things maybe?

Soon, the streaming service wants video games to be competing for a place on that list.

Netflix says games are a key part of its proposition to stay relevant with audiences in years to come, and is slowly ramping up plans to offer more gaming experiences to subscribers.

Leanne Loombe, vice president of external games at Netflix, tells BBC News: "Games are one of the biggest forms of entertainment out there today, so it really is just a natural extension for Netflix to include them as part of the subscription.

"The lines between the different ways we enjoy our entertainment are blurring. When you're in that moment, looking to sit and watch a movie or be more active and play a game, we want to make sure we have something for you.

"Our goal is to have a game on the service for everyone. Not focus on making one big experience, but rather a selection of titles that members can choose to play."

Since November 2021 games have been available to play on the Netflix app, but this development passed many users by. Loombe says the streaming service has deliberately not been "shouting from the rooftops" but instead taking their time to understand the market place first.

So far, what's being offered are mobile games, with some tied to famous Netflix franchises (like Stranger Things) and others independent of the service (like Reigns: Three Kingdoms).

Currently they're only available to play on mobile devices, although tests are under way to see how they could work on TVs and computers.

This low-key approach is a sensible move according to games journalist Shay Thompson, who explains the industry is "littered with the failed attempts" from legacy media brands to get into the world of gaming.

"When other mainstream entertainment organisations have tried to enter the game space they've really struggled," Thompson says. "I think it's often down to companies fundamentally misunderstanding what it is about games as a form of entertainment that make them so compelling to players.

"Amazon Games is an example of this, they've had titles like Lost Ark and and Crucible with big budgets but those titles lacked the creativity and uniqueness that we've come to expect from the games space. That's a significant reason why those titles haven't ended up making a serious impact."

"Focusing on the mobile games first is a clever strategy that could work in Netflix favour," says Thompson. "It looks as if they're talking the time to understand the landscape and gamers. I know their reputation has been a bit shaky on the streaming side-recently, but it certainly seems like they're trying to work with the games space and not against it.

"However giving gamers what they want, not what a big organisations think they want, will be the key to making this work. That is creativity and being unique."

In future, Loombe says we can expect to see Netflix leverage its intellectual property even more. "Connecting shows, movies and games together from our universes is what we're trying to accomplish," she explains.

In a trendy office space in central Liverpool, that's exactly what the team at Ripstone Studios are trying to do.

In amongst the exposed brick, succulent plants and pop culture memorabilia littered on the desks are developers and programmers busy creating the next update for their first partnership with Netflix. The Queen's Gambit is, as you may have guessed, a chess simulator based on the adventures of the television series' main character Beth Harmon.

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