Netflix, as we now know, is planning an expansion into the video game market. The surprising twist for the video streaming platform is expected to go live within the next year, though details have been largely absent. That changed today with Netflix’s latest letter to its investors. Among the information, Netflix said its customers won’t have to pay extra for the service.
In its letter, Netflix refers to its interactive movies like Black Mirror Bandersnatch as an early effort that contributed toward its future video game offering. “We view gaming as another new content category for us,” the company explains, “similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV.”
The company goes on to explain that it will offer its games to its subscribers as part of their current plans, meaning you won’t have to pay extra to access these titles. To start with, Netflix will focus on mobile games, though it’s unclear what kind of content players can expect and how they’ll be offered. Presumably, these will be games subscribers can play in the company’s app on their phones and tablets.
Though Netflix’s decision to offer games caught many by surprise, the reasoning behind this move makes sense. Netflix faces stiffer competition in the streaming industry, particularly in light of its growing subscription costs (you’ll pay nearly $20 in the US for 4K video, for example). As well, some of its biggest competitors have revenue sources beyond original video content, most notably Disney.
Netflix has already dabbled with ideas beyond ordinary TV shows and movies; as mentioned, there’s the interactive content that lets viewers decide where the story will go. Likewise, Netflix was also behind a mobile game based on its hit original Stranger Things, teasing the future we now know is rapidly approaching.
The big question is whether Netflix can pull off turning games into a big hit in the same way it revolutionized its streaming business by launching original content. That largely depends on the kind of games it will introduce and how easily subscribers will be able to play them. It seems likely the games will revolve around the company’s existing IP, particularly hit content among younger viewers like Fear Street, but questions remain.