Netflix’s Ongoing Gaming Experiment: A Journey of Endless Exploration

Netflix's Ongoing Gaming Experiment


Two years have passed, and Netflix’s gaming journey is still brimming with excitement and experimentation. Surprisingly, adding games to their platform didn’t spark an immediate frenzy. Initially, gamers were met with mild disinterest, as the “choose your own adventure” style interactive TV shows like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal were the closest thing to games available. However, the tide began to turn when Netflix acquired Night School, the brilliant minds behind Oxenfree, signaling their profound commitment to gaming.

Recently, Night School released the highly anticipated Oxenfree II: Lost Signals to much acclaim. The game’s success can be partly attributed to the support and resources provided by Netflix during development. Game director Bryant Cannon mentioned that their team expanded from 15 to around 25-30 members after the acquisition, enabling them to create a game that genuinely resonates with players across the globe. Notably, Netflix also helped localize the game into an astounding 30 languages, a remarkable achievement for a game of its size.

What sets Netflix apart from other gaming companies is its unwavering commitment to maintaining its partner studios’ creative independence. In a rapidly evolving industry where acquisitions often lead to creative stifling, Night School’s ability to retain artistic freedom is commendable. Adam Hines, the lead writer on Oxenfree II and co-founder of Night School Games, expressed gratitude for Netflix’s collaborative approach, acknowledging the platform’s willingness to venture into uncharted territory together.

Across the pond in the UK, Ripstone Games embarked on its journey with Netflix. Fascinated by the immense popularity of The Queen’s Gambit and the surge in online chess players during the pandemic, Ripstone pitched an idea for an interactive chess-teaching experience to Netflix. To their surprise, Netflix embraced the concept even before announcing their official gaming initiative. This genuine interest and enthusiasm set the stage for creating The Queen’s Gambit Chess, demonstrating Netflix’s eagerness to explore new ideas with external partners.

Netflix’s gaming philosophy revolves around collaboration and partnership. It’s like a modern-day patronage system. Netflix provides the necessary support and resources while empowering its partner studios to pursue their creative visions. This approach mirrors popular game subscription services like Xbox’s Game Pass and Apple Arcade, creating a harmonious ecosystem for developers and gamers alike.

Though Netflix has kept mum about the popularity of its games, insights hint that around 1 percent of total subscribers, approximately 1.7 million players, have engaged with their gaming content. While this may be a fraction of their audience, it’s still a considerable number, showcasing the potential impact of Netflix’s foray into gaming.

Netflix is learning and growing as they continue to expand their gaming offerings and explore cloud gaming possibilities. Humble and open-minded, they seek feedback and are unafraid to adapt based on their audience’s response. The journey is far from over, and with their partner studios by their side, Netflix is poised to discover whether gaming will be the secret ingredient in their quest to stand out in the competitive entertainment landscape.

Together, they embrace the thrill of creativity, innovation, and shared experiences, aiming to captivate and delight their global audience with unique and diverse gaming adventures.

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