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Yesterday, reporting revealed that Netflix is hiring a former EA/VR/mobile executive to head up a newfound gaming division, after years of claiming that games like Fortnite were their biggest rival, sucking away screen time, even if the forms of media are disparate.
The idea is that Netflix is going to have a games section, which raises all manner of questions about what this is going to look like in practice, and what it will actually be competing against.
So, for starters?
- Streaming or download? Early reporting says the games will be downloadable, not streamed, which would cut contrary to Netflix’s current format. It would also limit where they could be played with devices that have hard drives big enough to hold them. Streaming games instead would open up the concept to essentially all devices, including TVs.
- Controller support? Will these games all be mobile-focused using touchscreen controls? That highly limits the types of games you can make. Will Netflix have these games support controllers, or will they build their own controller like we’ve seen from places like Google Stadia?
- Will it cost extra? Early reporting says no, but it also says it means to compete with Apple Arcade to a certain extent, which has a subscription fee.
- Will there be any AAA games? All indications appears to be no, given the format these games must be in, if we’re talking touch controls and mobile-like gameplay.
- What about the App Store? Netflix suddenly offering games within its app seems like it could run afoul of App Store policies, but if each game is submitted for individual review, that may be the way around that. And yet it does seem like it would limit the types of outside games you could get on the service, as presumably Apple wouldn’t want say, Bloons Tower Defense available on its own app store but also through the Netflix app.
- How would microtransactions work? Would any of these games have in-game microtransactions to generate additional revenue? How would that work with app stores and overall game design?
- How much of a budget is Netflix devoting to this? If Netflix is not just licensing existing games for this, which they do not seem to be, and greenlighting original games or ones based on its IPs, how much are they willing to spend? Even if we’re not talking AAA here, it’s a huge proposition to build up an original roster of games big enough to adequately fill an entire games section on the app.
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More discussion in my video above.
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