Netflix may be looking to branch out into more interactive and gaming content, according to sources at the company. The suggestion is that this might also include a service similar to Apple Arcade, rather than just relying on choice-based interactive shows like Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend.
The Information (subscription required) has spoken to anonymous sources that suggest the company is speaking with veterans of the gaming industry to secure the talent needed to expand into the games market, worth an estimated $300 billion globally.
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Netflix told Polygon that the company is “excited to do more with interactive entertainment”. The statement in no way confirms that the company is looking into bespoke gaming. However. as a medium the select-a-path style of video has limited appeal. It’s been possible in various forms from books through to CD-ROM interactive content for decades, so a more immersive style of entertainment feels like the next step.
Netflix is well known for taking video game content the other way. Shows like The Witcher have been games, based on books, and the company has also produced DOTA: Dragon’s Blood based on the popular strategy game. It has also produced games in a limited fashion, with Stranger Things getting a number of mobile and other platforms.
Naturally, Netflix needs to do something to push subscription numbers up. At 200 million it’s the biggest streamer, but Disney+ has the ambition and the customer interest to catch up within a few years. For Netflix to ape Disney’s all-platform domination is likely to be a no-brainer for the company as it looks to increase revenue and subscriber numbers.
Perhaps the biggest question of all is just how the company plans to monetize a push into gaming. While TV and film is notoriously costly, it’s got nothing on video game development which can routinely cost in excess of $100M with titles like Cyberpunk 2077 reportedly costing $316 million and Red Dead Redemption 2 possibly touching $500 million. These games can certainly be profitable, but it’s not without risk.
Of course, Netflix may truly head down the Apple Arcade route, avoiding the AAA titles and look to develop more simple, but nonetheless addictive, mobile games instead. It’s reasonable to bet that this is the route it would take, rather than becoming the next Rockstar Games. But asking people to pay more for Netflix is already a big ask, given the streamer’s already high monthly cost in comparison to other similar offerings.
It might be too soon to announce anything, but Netflix is running a Geeked Week event next month to show off new content. Perhaps we'll see some hints there.
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Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited as ever about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com but has also regularly contributed to Tom's Guide.