Opinion: Netflix games are coming soon and Chris Smith believes the expansion will spark an exciting new synergy between watching and playing our favorite shows.
I’m really excited by the prospects for Netflix’s expansion into video games, despite some initial cynicism and cynicism over the quarters. It can combine sports with its traditional TV and film offerings in exciting and unprecedented ways that can delight fans and really enhance the value proposition.
There is real opportunity here, if Netflix can use its assets properly. Gaming is a great way to expand the universe of some of its most popular shows and movies, broadening the appeal among a wider set of audiences.
Games can give Netflix an in-depth look at the stories of fringe characters in shows like Stranger Things, Ozark, and Narcos. Watched an episode? Play it later with the opportunity for the main characters to make different decisions. Or, can your character secure a high society date in the world of Bridgeton? It could use games to set the scene and increase anticipation for some of the original films. The gaming expansion of The Fear Street movies currently playing around the world will work exceptionally well here.
Sure we’ve seen officially licensed spin-off games for hit shows and movies, and vice versa ever since video games became a thing. Some have had more success than others, but I believe Netflix can unlock a new wave of creativity and interactivity with its expansion into the genre.
The Walking Dead and the Telltale games for the Game of Thrones franchise were particularly good examples of how well this could work. Instead of taking on old ground, he combined the show’s lore with new characters that were adjacent to the plot, but within the same universe. Netflix has done a great job in building a loyal fan base for its biggest shows and as such viewers prefer to consume related media to satisfy their geekdom.
Netflix may also offer it under the same roof as the show. Watch episodes on TV, tap to play games on your mobile app at no extra cost, instantly and without any extra effort. It’s a unique offering that no rival can match right now and while it sounds so intriguing, it’s something I think Disney should consider for its Disney and Marvel properties.
It would be easy to look at Netflix’s gaming ambitions and think, “What does Netflix know about video games?” And it’s true; Not much yet. It would be easy to tell how much Spotify’s expansion into podcasting has diminished the appeal for those who are just into music. It would be easy to be cynical and argue that Netflix is just trying to milk its popular franchise and focus will suffer. The content line-up is already detailed. It’s already difficult to invest too much, as shows are often canceled after one season. I got it.
However, I was encouraged by comments on the matter in Netflix’s recent earnings report, which seemed to allay some of those concerns. First, the company says it wants to know what gamers want. This is a good first step. This may mean some trial and error in the initial attempts, but it will be an important step in getting it working. Too often we see companies go ahead, and pay the price, without considering what’s best for the users. It’s kinda Silicon Valley send-off, know-it-all.
Netflix says it understands concerns about losing focus on original TV shows and movies. It says budgets for those won’t be affected, with some users worried about Spotify-style siphoning of subscription fees for content they don’t want. Netflix is saying it won’t charge any extra for the games, but proof of the pudding will come when it won’t bump up the subscription fee to pay for the expansion as Spotify has. This is something to behold.
We’ve seen analysts call this a “non-advising” move. Others say the games will suffer because they are not console-based. I don’t see it that way. Netflix games are unlikely to be all about visual fidelity, frame rate, and ray tracing. If done well they’ll be the perfect accompaniment to your favorite shows, adding value and fun in the process. It’s easy to lift, hard to put down and focus on the fun.
I trust Netflix to get this right. It has proven itself adept at hitting cultural touchstones with its whimsical original content offering and there’s no better way to expand on this than with the world of video games.