Tech Talk: Netflix Gets Gaming


It’s no doubt that Netflix has become the most popular service of its kind, owning 71 percent of the world’s streaming video on demand (SVOD) market. And in efforts to capitalize even more from some of its popular shows, Netflix will enter the video game market in 2020 with the release of a new mobile game based on Stranger Things, one of its original and most popular series, with season two attracting 8.8 million views per episode within three days of release.

The Stranger Things games will use augmented reality to incorporate elements from the game into the user’s GPS location, namely elements from the show’s fictional world, The Upside Down. By looking through the app, the user will be able to see and interact, virtually, with show-related anomalies in their surroundings. Netflix first licensed a Stranger Things mobile game in 2017, along with related promotional products, like t-shirts, Coca-Cola bottles, ice cream and, as of late, Burger King’s Upside Down Whopper. But this new, free-to-play mobile game made its debut July 4, the day of the show’s season three premier. According to Bloomberg, promotions tying games with TV reflect marketing stunts intended to grow viewership, as most of Netflix’s revenue is subscription-based.

Stepping outside of the Stranger Things realm, Netflix will also present a game inspired by its original series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance—a prequel to Jim Henson’s 1982 film, The Dark Crystal—in 2019. The turn-based, tactics strategy game, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, will be available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and MAC. And all the while, Netflix is increasing the reach of characters from its most popular shows by incorporating them in games released by partners Roblox, Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive.

The trend. Netflix’s decision to enter the video game space, a $116 billion-dollar industry, according to this month’s Market to Market, is reflective of a pattern in entertainment to link video games to movies and TV shows, or vice versa. According to IndieWire, every year brings a new major motion picture based on a video game, such as, Warcraft, Resident Evil, Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider and the Pokémon series, a 22-year series that released a film this year, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, which grossed $421 worldwide from movie sales alone. But Netflix beware: Microsoft is currently designing Project xCloud, a Netflix-like service, but for video games. Project xCloud would permit users to play bestselling video games anywhere, anytime and on any device, without the need to purchase a gaming console.

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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