Will Netflix Really Get Into Video Gaming?

Will Netflix Really Get Into Video Gaming?

We all knew that something like this was coming. When Amazon paid almost nine billion dollars to acquire MGM Studios, Netflix was always bound to respond in some form or another. Most people expected Netflix to purchase a well-known movie studio of its own so it could go toe to toe with Amazon Prime. Instead, it appears that the company is going to do something drastically different. If the rumours currently coming out of the United States of America are to be believed, Netflix has decided to let Amazon have its film studio and get heavily involved in video gaming instead.

At the moment, we’re taking these reports with a pinch of salt. We’ve heard stories about Netflix wanting to get involved in gaming before. Rumours about Netflix making “an interactive game” in 2018 turned out to be related to Charlie Brooker’s “Bandersnatch,” which was more of a “choose your own adventure” interactive movie than a video game. Viewers were impressed by the film, and the gaming industry breathed a sigh of relief. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and all the rest have it hard enough at the moment trying to compete with each other. The last thing they need is a company of Netflix’s size and reach getting involved in the industry – and yet that might be exactly what they’re going to get. Reading between the lines, there’s reason to believe that Netflix is serious this time.

The reason for all the rumours is that within the past week, Netflix has posted a vacancy for a new video gaming executive – a post that’s never existed within the company before. “The Information” broke the news, with Reuters following up to confirm that the vacancy is both genuine and video game-related. Anything you might have seen or heard beyond that point is speculation. We’ve heard that the company is going to “bundle” games in a manner that could be compared to Apple’s “Apple Arcade” platform. That’s yet to be substantiated. We’ve also heard that the company will seek to develop its own games as well as purchasing exclusive rights to those developed by third parties. That’s yet to be substantiated, either. The creation of the post suggests that something is afoot, though, which means that the other big names in the industry ought to be nervous.

The idea of streaming video games is yet to take hold in a big way. Some industry experts believed that Google Stadia would attract a larger audience than it has. Amazon Luna thus far looks to be dead on arrival, too. There’s the Xbox Gold and PlayStation Now streaming services offered by Sony and Microsoft, but the service they provide is more like emulating games from past versions of their native consoles than providing a genuine over-the-top streaming alternative to physically owning console hardware. The streaming wars might have taken hold when it comes to television and movies, but they’re still in their early days with regard to video games. The sudden appearance of Netflix in the market would change that instantly.

If anyone knows how to get a streaming service off the ground, it’s Netflix. With no disrespect intended to Amazon Prime, Hulu, or anybody else, nobody does it better than the world’s biggest streaming company. The idea of them running the video game equivalent of an online slots website, with hundreds of titles lined up side by side accessible at the click of a button, is probably terrifying for their potential opposition. It’s that level of single-click integration that makes Netflix so easy to use. We mention online slots websites because that’s long been where Netflix is thought to have got the idea for its template from. If you visit Rose Slots NZ, you’ll note that once you’ve entered your password, you’re free to navigate from game to game without having to re-enter details or wait for new loading screens. That’s how Netflix presents its entertainment options. However, it’s not how services like Stadia present their game streaming options. There are delays and obstacles. Netflix would, presumably, offer a smoother interface and have the advantage of being a known and trusted streaming platform. If this truly were about online slots, Netflix would be the jackpot winner.

In recent years, we’ve seen Netflix score big successes with several films or limited television series based on video games. “The Witcher” ought to come to mind straight away when you think about that, as should the Netflix versions of “Castlevania” and “Resident Evil.” The company might have been building stronger links with the gaming industry before our very eyes, and we simply haven’t seen it. Alternatively, perhaps we’re all getting very excited about a job vacancy without considering the fact that whoever gets hired for that role they’re going to need a lot more staff (and potentially an entirely new department) before they achieve any results. Maybe that’s why – for all the headlines around the issue at the moment – QZ describes Netflix’s attitude to gaming as “flirting” rather than anything serious or committed at the moment.

Curiously, Netflix has been contacted for comments about this issue by several publications and provided similar answers to all of them. In those answers, they re-iterate that the company is dedicated to making ‘new entertainment products’ and ‘engaging with their audience in new ways.’ That’s not a confirmation, but it’s also not a denial – and the lack of denial seems deliberate. The suspicion is that Netflix might not be ready to officially confirm that it’s going to give video games a try yet, but nor does the company want to tell outright lies by denying it. Their arrival on the scene would cause an earthquake within the industry, but it would also be risky. Google, Apple, and Amazon have all found out – to their cost – that becoming a success in the video gaming industry is about more than just throwing money at a new division. Even much-loved names from the past like Sega and Atari are barely hanging on. Getting involved in video games and doing it badly would hurt Netflix. They’ll probably only get one chance to get this right, so if they really are working on something, they need to make sure it’s a home run before the public even catches a glimpse of it.

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