With Disney+ crossing over the 100 million subscriber milestone, Netflix has found itself in the unenviable position of having to stray way outside of its comfort zone. Netflix is expanding into gaming in 2022 and we have a lot of questions.
According to a report earlier this week on Bloomberg, the streaming giant has hired a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to lead its charge into the gaming category in an effort to attract younger subscribers to the service.
Having already solidified its position as a major streaming studio, Netflix is now angling to beat Disney+ in the gaming category on streaming platforms; Disney has not been successful creating its own gaming platforms in-house leading to a closure of the division at the studio.
The company has been very successful licensing Star Wars and the Marvel MCU to outside gaming developers, however, and it has a huge edge over Netflix in that category.
The strategy is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year. The games will appear on the platform as a new programming genre — similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the new gaming content which will certainly be a risk for developers in the short-term.
Most analysts predict Netflix will pass on the new costs to users within the year by increasing the monthly subscription fee.
The decision to push into online gaming is one of Netflix’s boldest moves yet. By hiring Mike Verdu, the company now has seasoned management with a successful track record of working on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises.
Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months and has already begun its recruitment drive online to fill out the department.
What We Know So Far
Netflix has indicated that the Gaming content will be a category within the current Netflix streaming service and not a separate service.
Although Netflix has dabbled with some interactive content, such as Black Mirror – Bandersnatch, and a special episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Also, Netflix has spun off game versions of some of its shows for mobile and game consoles (Stranger Things 3: The Game and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics), but not for offering on its own streaming service.
What We Don’t Know Yet
If Netflix expects to ready its game platform within a year, as indicated in its announcement, here are some key things that will need to be resolved.
- No game titles have been announced.
- No word on if the eventual goal is to offer games on the level of those available for Xbox or Sony Playstation Games.
- No word on how users would navigate the games (a game-enabled remote or optional dedicated game controller).
- The internet speed requirements to play the games have not been revealed.
- There is no word if games will be for solo players or multiplayer affairs that can be activated by a “party mode” type feature.
- There is no indication whether some or all games will be licensed versions from already established game makers, be originally developed games, or a mixture of the two.
- There are no details whether games will provide advanced features, such as 4K resolution, HDR, and VRR. If so, will Netflix provide TV brand/model recommendations for the best viewing and playing experience similar to its current “recommended TVs” program?
- Although Netflix has indicated that there will be no price increase, that doesn’t necessarily preclude one down the road by creating a new pricing tier that includes gaming as it does for its current 4K plan.
It would be shocking if Netflix offers a great gaming experience and selection right out the gate, but if they offer up a few good initial offerings and refine from there this could propel Netflix to an almost un-touchable top streaming service.
However, keep in mind that although Disney+ and Amazon are quiet on this right now, if they see Netflix falter in this move in any way, they may have the financial resources to catch up by getting “free lessons” from Netflix’s mistakes.
Although most likely not realistic in the beginning, at some point would Netflix be able to entice Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch users away from their game consoles in favor of a Netflix streaming platform if it is successful?
What do you think about Netflix plunging into Gaming? Is this Netflix’s greatest idea ever or will this turn out to be their dumbest idea that could have negative financial consequences?
For a very interesting perspective on how Netflix sees itself and how some analysts view their move into gaming, check out a video report from Bloomberg Technology (below).