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2023-09-04 –

Raw: [Streaming hits such as the Queen’s Gambit are being adapted as games as the streamer looks to expand.] Netflix: Streamer's expansion into gaming is 'natural extension' – BBC NewsBBC HomepageSkip to contentAccessibility HelpYour accountHomeNewsSportReelWorklifeTravelFutureMore menuMore menuSearch BBCHomeNewsSportReelWorklifeTravelFutureCultureMusicTVWeatherSoundsClose menuBBC NewsMenuHomeWar in UkraineClimateVideoWorldUS & CanadaUKBusinessTechScienceMoreEntertainment & ArtsHealthIn PicturesBBC VerifyWorld News TVNewsbeatEntertainment & ArtsNetflix: Streamer's expansion into gaming is 'natural extension'Published5 days agocommentsCommentsShareclose panelShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, NETFLIXImage caption, The Queen's Gambit game is a chess simulator based on the adventures of the series' main character Beth HarmonBy Steffan PowellGaming correspondentThink of Netflix and a memorable television show or movie will likely pop into your mind. What did you most enjoy? Squid Game? Bridgerton? Stranger Things maybe? Soon, the streaming service wants video games to be competing for a place on that list.Netflix says games are a key part of its proposition to stay relevant with audiences in years to come, and is slowly ramping up plans to offer more gaming experiences to subscribers. Leanne Loombe, vice president of external games at Netflix, tells BBC News: "Games are one of the biggest forms of entertainment out there today, so it really is just a natural extension for Netflix to include them as part of the subscription."The lines between the different ways we enjoy our entertainment are blurring. When you're in that moment, looking to sit and watch a movie or be more active and play a game, we want to make sure we have something for you."Our goal is to have a game on the service for everyone. Not focus on making one big experience, but rather a selection of titles that members can choose to play."Image source, NETFLIXImage caption, The Queen's Gambit video game is made in Liverpool by Ripstone StudiosSince November 2021 games have been available to play on the Netflix app, but this development passed many users by. Loombe says the streaming service has deliberately not been "shouting from the rooftops" but instead taking their time to understand the market place first.So far, what's being offered are mobile games, with some tied to famous Netflix franchises (like Stranger Things) and others independent of the service (like Reigns: Three Kingdoms).Currently they're only available to play on mobile devices, although tests are under way to see how they could work on TVs and computers.This low-key approach is a sensible move according to games journalist Shay Thompson, who explains the industry is "littered with the failed attempts" from legacy media brands to get into the world of gaming."When other mainstream entertainment organisations have tried to enter the game space they've really struggled," Thompson says. "I think it's often down to companies fundamentally misunderstanding what it is about games as a form of entertainment that make them so compelling to players."Amazon Games is an example of this, they've had titles like Lost Ark and and Crucible with big budgets but those titles lacked the creativity and uniqueness that we've come to expect from the games space. That's a significant reason why those titles haven't ended up making a serious impact."Experiences such as this and tech giant Google, who closed its Stadia console this year, show how difficult it is to find a place in the games space for companies. Amazon's games division may not yet be as successful as its Prime Video operation, however we still expect to see more titles from them in future. The company is currently working on a the next iteration of the Tomb Raider franchise starring Lara Croft."Focusing on the mobile games first is a clever strategy that could work in Netflix favour," says Thompson. "It looks as if they're talking the time to understand the landscape and gamers. I know their reputation has been a bit shaky on the streaming side-recently, but it certainly seems like they're trying to work with the games space and not against it."However giving gamers what they want, not what a big organisations think they want, will be the key to making this work. That is creativity and being unique."Image source, Amazon StudiosImage caption, Amazon have been making games, like multiplayer experience New World, since 2012In future, Loombe says we can expect to see Netflix leverage its intellectual property even more. "Connecting shows, movies and games together from our universes is what we're trying to accomplish," she explains.In a trendy office space in central Liverpool, that's exactly what the team at Ripstone Studios are trying to do. In amongst the exposed brick, succulent plants and pop culture memorabilia littered on the desks are developers and programmers busy creating the next update for their first partnership with Netflix. The Queen's Gambit is, as you may have guessed, a chess simulator based on the adventures of the television series' main character Beth Harmon.The team won the contract to make the game after Jaime Brayshaw, the creative executive, sent Netflix an email out of the blue. "I asked them when will Netflix become the Netflix of games?!" he laughs.Ripstone, who have a long history of making chess games, became one of the first companies to partner with the streaming giant to work on their games offering. Brayshaw says the relationship is not just a licensing agreement, but rather a "collaborative partnership" with both companies sharing expertise with each other. As well as offering more content to Netflix customers in an increasingly competitive market, Brayshaw thinks their collaboration is a chance to help grow gaming as a form of entertainment as well: "Netflix has an audience 238 million people now," he says."Many of them will never have played a game before, so we had to think about designing one that is accessible to as many people as possible, even if they've never played a video game."Its exciting because it potentially allows more people to experience the joys of playing games and it could broaden the popularity of the medium." Image source, NETFLIXImage caption, Netflix started offering games, such as Stranger Things 3: The Game, to subscribers in 2021Confident that this agreement is a "win-win", Brayshaw isn't worried about joining the long history of failed game and movie or television tie-ins."Yes there are lots of bad examples from yesteryear with tie-ins that are bad, but it's usually because there are timelines involved," he argues. "Netflix has a more mature approach, where the products don't have to tie together at release, so fewer compromises are needed."The streamer will be keen to learn from the other big media organisations renowned for working in film, television or tech who've tried to cross the divide into the games space. Google's cloud gaming service Stadia was discontinued in January, while Amazon's games division has developed its own titles with mixed success. It is currently working on a new Lara Croft game but none of its releases so far have challenged the popularity of titles like Fortnite or Call of Duty. There were redundancies at the studio earlier this year. By focusing on mobile titles, which are cheaper to make than big console releases, there is less financial risk for Netflix. It isn't investing millions in one experience that has to compete with well established brands to be deemed a success. Should a project fail to reach lots of players, the financial ramifications are not as significant. Image source, NETFLIXImage caption, The Queen's Gambit is the latest example of Netflix leveraging its intellectual property in the gaming spaceHowever the other side of the coin is that in such a competitive space, if players are not impressed with what they're seeing, if they feel it lacks scope or ambition, they will very quickly move on to something else. It can be difficult to regain an audience that has moved on to other games. This bottom-up approach is different to what we've seen before and we wont be able to judge its success for some time. As Loombe reiterates: "We're very early in our games journey right now. When it's such a big industry like games, and there's already some fantastic titles out there in the market that players really love, we just want to make sure we were doing things in the right way."For more gaming content, go to Press X to Continue, the BBC Sounds gaming Podcast.Related TopicsGamingTelevisionNetflixMore on this storyThe Last of Us 'breaks curse' of game adaptationsPublished16 JanuaryKojima working to merge games and filmsPublished26 January 2017Amazon pulls 'boring' big-budget video gamePublished1 July 2020Super Mario: Jack Black on rise of game adaptationsPublished5 AprilView commentsTop StoriesUkraine's defence minister dismissed by ZelenskyPublished37 minutes agoUkraine punches through key Russian line, generals claimPublished13 hours agoBiden disappointed Xi will not attend G20 summitPublished2 hours agoloadingFeaturesTeacher suicide exposes parent bullying in S KoreaLagos traffic jams disappear. 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