Now that Netflix has entered the world of video games more fully, there are many doubts about the objective of the company that began selling DVDs. And it is normal that there are questions, for five days Netflix subscribers can download two Stranger Things games (in Poland) at no additional cost, and this is just the beginning.
According to Netflix CEO Greg Peters, this is a test and there is a lot of work to do. So we can expect significant progress from your company in this section, something that is obvious when we take into account the background of the service and that they hired Mike Verdu, a former executive of EA and Facebook Gaming.
How does Netflix do things?
Netflix was founded on August 29, 1997, so we can basically count the release of video games on its platform as a twenty-fourth anniversary celebration. At the time they only rented DVD movies through traditional mail, but today it is one of the largest companies in the world.
They went from DVDs to streaming and from streaming to the production of original series and movies. But the thing to keep in mind is that each step was taken slowly first. For example, Netflix as streaming at the beginning coexisted with the DVD rental service and the launch of the online platform was made first in the United States, months later in Canada and a year later in Latin America.
Finally, series production began with House of Cards in 2013, but Netflix would take several months to renew the series and begin to be behind the creation of more programs. Now much of its content is original, including its most successful series.
The same will happen with games, except surprise. At first only in Poland and only two games: Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3. Both titles could be downloaded from the Play Store and the Apple Store, and it will continue to be the case, but to acquire them you will have to go through Netflix first.
Netflix and its competition
They are not the most successful titles or with the best reviews, but many judged them as a decent product that fans of the series would like. But the feeling in the air is that this is just the beginning of a great investment. Now, this will not be all for gamers.
The CEO of the service, Greg Peters, has mentioned on several occasions that his rivals are not other streaming services but video games. However, the conversation has escalated and Netflix already sees any other form of entertainment as rival, including social media, surfing the internet, reading a book or even the need to sleep.
In this sense, the new commitment to games is an important piece to create much more interesting series and films for the public. In a letter to his investors, Peters mentioned that video games provide “intentionality”, so it is easier to determine what the public likes and what not.
The video game as a tool
So we could prepare for the launch in a few years of a great mobile game on Netflix or even one for compatible consoles. We refer to The Witcher IV included in your Netflix subscription to promote the new season of the homonymous series, we mean something that big and relevant.
And is that according to the expert Barry Diller, former president of Paramount and 20th Century Fox, Netflix has been making “movies” for years (the quotes are his).
They are not movies. They are a strange algorithmic process that have created things and that take about 100 minutes
With this comment Diller refers to the quality of Netflix products, most of them have well-marked characters in stereotypes that a certain audience will like. The same for its theme, history, costumes and other elements. The big N does not produce anything without relying on data, if they reflect that a new series of Karate Kid is going to succeed, well they do, and they are not doing badly.
It is worth noting that many creatives such as Zack Snyder, Martin Scorcese or the comedians Bill Burr and Dave Chapelle have made it clear that Netflix has given them creative freedom. But it seems that this is a right that the greats earn, the rest of the productions follow very clear guidelines, series manufactured and created by a committee to please a specific audience.
Netflix’s real plan
Games are just another way to determine people’s preferences without the need for surveys, another source of data that will be thoroughly analyzed in their offices. A clear example is left by the games released in Poland a week ago.,
By having launched two options, Netflix will be able to see which title was downloaded more frequently, which genre (RPG or action) was preferred, etc. As if that were not enough, they can cross data and see what type of game men, women, adults, children, longest-lived subscribers, Latin Americans, fans of the saga and not-so-fans, and much more.
Based on this they can decide which plots, people or themes from Stranger Things (or other series) they should download. If players don’t choose one character as often as another, they will appear less in the series; If certain themes produce more hype, reactions in networks and in general more engagement, these will appear more frequently in similar programs.
Netflix will leverage its resources
So everything goes hand in hand, Netflix not only wants to offer video games to expand (which also) but to know where to expand. In addition, it is a blow to HBO Max, Disney Plus and Amazon, which have their video games, but none through their streaming service and none without additional cost in their subscription.
What does this mean for the industry? Well, we’ll have to wait to see what Netflix does and at what pace. Among the big game franchises that work with Netflix include Castlevania, The Witcher, Dragon Quest, League of Legends, DOTA, Resident Evil, among others.
Any of the companies producing these games could decide to support Netflix by releasing games on their service. Obviously they would receive something in return (a lot of money and promotion), but video games are also likely to adapt to the demands of Netflix.
Without going too far, Netflix recently released The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf starring Vesemir. This secondary character is Geralt de Rivia’s mentor and his film has been liked enough that imagining a game with him as the protagonist is not so far-fetched.
Now, whether or not the influence of Netflix engagement data will be good for the video game industry remains to be seen.
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