Active Play: Netflix steps up its cross-platform plans

DUBAI: Faster than some observers predicted, the streaming world in general has gained ground on the Netflix industry pioneer in the fight for entertainment supremacy, but the world’s biggest streamer still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Take Netflix games, for example. Launched just 10 months ago with little marketing power behind it, the service has already added 28 mobile games to its library and is steadily gaining ground among the company’s huge subscription base, largely through word of mouth.

For Netflix, however, gaming is not simply a value-added service; Netflix Games could signal the future of the company, which will maximize the value of its internal intellectual properties.

“We think the great opportunity Netflix has is connecting our universes,” Leanne Loombe, the company’s head of external games, told Arab News.

This means that in the near future, when new seasons of world-renowned Netflix properties such as “Stranger Things”, “Squid Game”, “Bridgerton” and “Money Heist” are released, they could potentially be accompanied by games that link directly with them. . Such a service would not only cross promote, but could also enrich the whole viewing experience.

“Some of the big streaming-side IPs could become game-side experiences that could allow people to watch the TV show or movie and then play and truly immerse themselves in the universe and characters. We are excited to bring more Netflix IP games to the service.” Loombe said.

Netflix has long had a clear global strategy. It is available in 190 countries and territories, with teams around the world aiming not only to personalize existing content for each single market, but also to create content specifically designed for each. In some cases, such as the original Jordanian-language drama AlRawabi School for Girls, this local content ends up finding a global audience.

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By embracing games, Netflix properties could gain cultural ground to an even greater extent, especially in countries like Saudi Arabia, where games are not only popular at the grassroots level, but have state-level support for continued growth of the game. sector.

“Saudi Arabia will become one of the global hubs for games and esports,” said Prince Faisal bin Bandar, president of the Saudi Esports Federation, during his keynote address at the Next World Forum in Riyadh this month.

Netflix’s move towards cross-platform maximization of the value of its IPs is not a plan for the distant future. It has already announced two major games that tie into past and future Netflix projects.

In June, a game based on the popular drama series “The Queen’s Gambit” was announced, titled The Queen’s Gambit Chess. No release date has been given, but it is likely to be imminent.

Additionally, an original and exclusive game from the hit Assassin’s Creed franchise was announced last weekend from the software company and new Netflix partner Ubisoft. It will reportedly link to a previously announced live-action TV series “Assassin’s Creed”. Both could appear on Netflix in 2023.

“Of the 28 games we’ve released so far, and with 50 planned by the end of the year, not many of them are Netflix IPs,” Loombe said. “Our future will focus more on this as it is an area where we already have a superpower.”

While most games are aimed at the mobile gaming experience, that doesn’t mean they’re meant to be superficial “pick-up-and-play” experiences. The streamer already has a range of game types, from casual experiences to so-called “hardcore games,” and the existing multiplayer options mean the esports perspective on Netflix’s gaming platform isn’t a far-fetched possibility.

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“We already have multiplayer games on the service and giving people the chance to play together is something we’re passionate about,” says Loombe.

Netflix is ​​dedicating the same depth, focus and investment dimension to its future gaming plans that its IP TVs are already known for. This is especially true in the case of upcoming Ubisoft games, which in addition to Assassin’s Creed include the popular spin-offs Valiant Hearts and Mighty Quest.

“Those games all had a scale that existed before they came to the platform and we want to make sure that with our next originals, we’re doing those games justice in terms of the complexity, scope and depth of the experience we’re creating,” Loombe said.

“While it’s still early days, as those games are in development, we definitely remain loyal to those franchises and want to deliver great games to existing communities and their hardcore fans.”

While many other streaming services have emerged from existing film and television studios or services, Netflix has always been a technologically advanced company that doesn’t consider itself conveniently adaptable to any specific box. As Loombe says, it is an entertainment company and the definition of entertainment encompasses a broader category than some might think.

“I think it’s a natural progression for Netflix to move to games so that we have a broad spectrum of entertainment for our subscribers,” he said.

“You need a few hours to sit down and watch a movie or TV show on weekends or evenings, but with games you can play for five minutes during your break or you can play on the go, especially on your mobile. This makes Netflix properties much more accessible and can fit your lifestyle. “

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And this, ultimately, is why Netflix believes its future is cross-platform, so that no amount of free time, however short, cannot be filled with some form of entertainment that can be enjoyed for the price of. a Netflix subscription.

“The games allow us to ensure that our members have something to engage in, wherever they are, whatever time of day it is,” said Loombe. “Our goal is to bring joy to our members through a connected ecosystem; to make sure the entertainment is always in their hands. “

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