E3 2019: Netflix takes step toward multimedia empire with new videogames


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 13 Jun 2019

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 11, 2014 illustrates the on-demand internet streaming media provider, Netflix, on the home video game console PlayStation 3 in Stockholm. Video streaming giant Netflix said on February 24, 2016 it is making its first original German series, to debut in 2017. / AFP / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

Netflix Inc is unveiling new videogames based on its shows, stepping up efforts to turn its streaming platform into a multimedia empire. 

Stranger Things 3: The Game, a title based on the popular teen series, will come out on July 4, the same day the third season of the show debuts. Netflix has also licensed The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – a prequel series to the 1980s Jim Henson film – for a game that will debut later this year. The company isn’t developing or producing the videogames itself, opting instead to license the characters to outside studios. 

Netflix is just starting to explore the possibility of turning its movies and TV shows into other products, and Stranger Things has been its guinea pig. The show is one of the service’s most popular, especially in the US and among younger viewers. The company licensed a Stranger Things mobile game in 2017 and has since struck deals for Stranger Things T-shirts, Coca-Cola bottles and ice cream. A new mobile game will debut in 2020.

Some of these promotions are just marketing stunts designed to drive additional viewers to its original series. Netflix still generates virtually all of its sales from subscriptions to its streaming service, the world’s largest paid online TV network. But both merchandise and video games could become new revenue streams. 

‘Obvious’ move 

"We’re looking for opportunities to extend the universe of these shows and films into other mediums,” Chris Lee, the director of interactive games at Netflix, said during a panel at the E3 videogame expo. "To me, it was really obvious to try to do that into video games.” 

Industrywide, videogames sales topped US$40bil (RM166.44bil) last year. That’s more than consumers spend on movie tickets. 

Hollywood studios have a checkered history of turning hit movies and shows into videogames, and an even spottier track record of turning games into movies. For every GoldenEye, a classic game based on the James Bond film, there are a number that failed. 

Netflix is still in the experimental stage. Its first two games will be available on most of the major gaming consoles, as well as personal computers. The company has also produced interactive TV series that blend gaming with TV, such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Viewers have to make choices during the show that affect the narrative. – Bloomberg


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