Netflix is known to be planning on getting into video games. Specifically, the company is looking to apply its streaming prowess to gaming, making video games available for people via subscription and without downloads. If it works — alongside the advent of 5G and improved cloud networks — it could represent a sort of new frontier in modern gaming.
What isn’t being discussed as much, however, is the idea that Netflix’s foray into gaming could also result in new gaming experiences based on actual Netflix material. That is to say, Netflix may become a studio for game design rather than merely a platform for game streaming (in much the same way as it developed for TV and films). Already, Netflix has released its own Stranger Things mobile games, which aren’t part of some newly unveiled streaming service but do hint at the company’s desire to produce original experiences.
This idea leads to a fascinating question. If we assume that Netflix’s move into game streaming will ultimately (if successful) be mimicked by other major streaming services, then which of those services would have the edge in original gaming properties? Frankly, it’s a dizzying question when you consider the full breadth of streamers out there today — roping in Hulu, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, and so on. But to assess the question, we’ll focus on what we might consider being the four closest or most similar competitors in the space.
Netflix’s content library is always in flux, and one would have to assume that temporary rights to films and shows would not give the company the ability to create original games. For its own studio productions though, Netflix would presumably be able to produce any number of video games.
As indicated, Stranger Things already seems to be taking the lead, and there remains quite a lot of potential for playable content. From strategy mobile games to story-driven, console-quality experiences, to more action-packed, arcade-like titles, you can wrap your hand around just about any sort of Stranger Things product. Beyond this popular show though, it’s actually hard to think of a Netflix property with a clear path to gaming.
Certainly, there could be games derived from dramas like Narcos or Ozark. Maybe some fun, comedic arcades could sprout from Big Mouth or Bojack Horseman. But right now it’s hard to envision too many hits coming from the company’s existing original shows and films.
Peacock is arguably the most Netflix-like service out there, and also has some rotating content. However, there’s plenty of potential in the properties Peacock does own — particularly given its partnership with Universal.
Universal has already been active in emerging or alternative gaming arenas, the most notable examples being online casinos. The studios’ legendary monster properties (Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.) in fact produced a number of slot and arcade games that helped to reshape internet casinos into more modern gaming spaces. And for that matter, these games are still being produced. Gala Bingo’s platform only recently introduced an exclusive Universal-licensed property based on The Mummy that looks to be arguably the best “monster property” game yet.
Given this success in an unorthodox arena, one would have to imagine that Universal will be ready and waiting to put its famous monsters and all sorts of other TV and cinema content toward a Peacock gaming effort. For the record, that could mean games based on Battlestar Galactica, The Fast And The Furious, and even the Jason Bourne films.
Disney+ is where we begin to get into the extraordinarily promising territory. If in fact, future video game development is to be tied at least in part to streaming providers, there’s an argument to be made that no company is better positioned than Disney.
This is partly due to the sheer number of popular Disney films and shows people have adored over the years. Anything from Pixar and Disney animated adventures, to a Pirates Of The Caribbean role-playing game, to a National Treasure strategy experience would be on the table. But where Disney would really cash in would be through its biggest acquired properties: the Marvel and Star Wars universes. Suffice it to say, both have had plenty of success in gaming already and would have plenty more through Disney+ streaming.
HBO Max may be another gaming jackpot, so to speak, and in this case, it’s largely thanks to the in-studio, original content. The clearest example is the Game Of Thrones franchise, which has already been prolific in gaming. The best Game Of Thrones video games has included strategy games, RPGs, arcade narratives, and more. In fact, there has even been some Game Of Thrones games alongside the aforementioned Universal titles on casino sites. There’s no reason for this series or its forthcoming spinoffs to stop producing intriguing games on an HBO Max game streaming platform in the future.
Additional original content HBO Max could likely make fun games out of includes Westworld, The Sopranos, The Wire, and more. There could even be excellent narrative-driven games in the worlds of Succession or True Detective.
Even aside from all of these HBO original examples, the company also has an invaluable partnership with Warner Bros., which could in theory give it the option of creating games based on anything from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world to Batman movies.
We can’t say which platform would be most successful at creating original games, and right now we’re still a long way off from any of this materializing. But it’s worth beginning to think about, and YomiProf will bring you more concrete updates as they occur.