Report: Netflix really wants to get into video games

Illustration: Ollie Hoff for Polygon

Netflix is reportedly searching for an executive to head up an expansion into video games, according to a report published Friday by The Information. The report suggests Netflix has approached multiple “veteran game industry executives” regarding the position, which would expand its efforts in video games.

The Information reported that Netflix is considering a “bundle” of games available via a subscription, like Apple Arcade; the Apple bundle launched in 2019 with a number of exclusive (and timed exclusive) games, available for $4.99 a month. Apple has continued to support the platform by adding new games at a pretty consistent pace.

A Netflix spokesperson told Polygon the company is “excited to do more with interactive entertainment.” The full statement is available below.

Our members value the variety and quality of our content. It’s why we’ve continually expanded our offering — from series to documentaries, film, local language originals and reality TV. Members also enjoy engaging more directly with stories they love — through interactive shows like Bandersnatch and You v. Wild, or games based on Stranger Things, La Casa de Papel and To All the Boys. So we’re excited to do more with interactive entertainment.

The streaming platform has experimented with interactive video experiences and video games in the past — in 2018, it published Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a Choose Your Own Adventure-style movie, followed by a similarly interactive experience in 2020 for an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode. That’s on top of its experience producing series based off video game properties, like Dota, Castlevania, and The Witcher and its spinoffs, as well as upcoming shows based on Magic: The Gathering, Sonic the Hedgehog, and League of Legends.

Netflix has also produced games before — with third-party developers — based off its Stranger Things series: a Stranger Things mobile game and Stranger Things 3: The Game.

Details regarding Netflix’s reported gaming expansion still remain minimal, but it’s been clear over the past few years that the company is interested in new interactive mediums. Netflix subscriptions have slowed over the past year — partially due to delayed production on its original shows — and competition in the streaming space continues to grow. However, the so-called “streaming wars” have been ongoing for years as companies prepared to launch new services, and Netflix said in 2019 that its biggest competition is actually Fortnite, which is what more likely pulls players away from the streaming service.

Fortnite is a video game, yes — but developer Epic Games is also building what is calls “the Metaverse,” a growing virtual world that’s more than a video game. Indeed, Fortnite is now a place where people turn for movies; over the past year, Epic has held multiple movie nights, where players can watch films through a screen in Fortnite, as well as the debut of a Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker trailer.

Comments

Hopefully they come up with a new algorithm, because the one that is writing all their original programming is busted.

This. HBO Max has the best content of any streaming service.

As long as you watch only American TV Show

Imagining browsing the list of games in a frenzied sweat because you know if you don’t move the cursor for 3 seconds the game your cursor is hovering over will automatically boot up.

Good one!

I just mute the goddamn tv at this point. I really can’t believe there’s not a "disable autoplay" setting on the app on Xbox.

Use their website; the control is personal-profile specific:

https://help.netflix.com/en/node/2102

Thank you!

seems like only the workers can’t make money in this industry because everyone else seems so eager to enter the market

that’s capitalism. Well, lazy capitalism, as 1619 Project would accurately call it.

no, just capitalism

If they do this, it will have to be part of the base subscription I think. Any additional cost will just turn people right off, because there are plenty of other cheap ways to get video games.

depends on how much it costs, and how many games they have

i’m curious whether this will be a streaming service, like stadia, or an online game store, like steam

What are they going to be playable on?

If this is a furthering of their "interactive" TV shows, no thanks: those were a fun throwback to awful 90s FMV games, but I don’t see much potential there and I doubt, based on how few of them Netflix has released, they were terribly successful.

I could see this being phone/device-based, like Apple Arcade, since I imagine a large number of subscribers watch on something other than their TVs. Maybe they co-opt some of the mobile strategies: watch Stranger Things and get gems to unlock levels in Candy Crush, for example.

While I would love another big, AAA, console & PC publisher (or even a mid-tier, AA publisher) in the space, I bet this is the least-likely option—at least at first.

There’s a niche of FMV games on Steam produced in the last few years and honestly I love every single one of them. They’re campy, generally badly-acted and extremely silly but they’re a treat to play with friends. I doubt a big company like Netflix wants to get into something as small fry as that but if they did and they embraced it, I’d be down.

That would be totally low-budget for a company that wants itself to be perceived as classy and Oscar-worth… but it’s also right in keeping with the trash quality of most Netflix Originals.

Oh sure, people like Sam Barlow are doing amazing things with FMV, I’m not saying it’s not possible—I grew up on Wing Commander, after all

Anybody remember Captain Power?

Oh hell yes! My aunt made my cousins and me cardboard Power Suits that she sewed into pairs of old pyjamas.

That’s a pretty swell story there, Colin.

so its shitty game pass?

You win the Internet for the day.

i would just wait and see what happens. Many companies would like to do many things. Doesn’t mean its ever gonna happen.
Maybe they’re just in a research phase.

They were trying to get into games with Telltale until it shut down 3 years ago.

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