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Netflix is looking into video games to keep subscriptions growing

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The Netflix logo is seen on a phone.

One expert says Netflix could offer a rotating mix of video games from other creators and even have its own gaming console. Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

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It seems like everyone’s chasing streaming trends. The most recent case in point: Amazon’s deal to buy MGM Studios. But the biggest name in streaming is chasing something else: video games. The Information is reporting that Netflix is looking to hire an executive to oversee an expansion into gaming. Why now, and what might that look like?

Netflix has already been experimenting with interactive content. Last year it released a movie-length episode of its series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” It’s a choose-your-own-adventure story.

This isn’t exactly a video game, but you can see where this could go. Maybe a “Black Mirror” adventure game or a “Queen’s Gambit”-themed chess game. There’s a lot of intellectual property to mine.

“The notion is that consumers will find such content to be more engaging and be part of the action, so to speak,” said Tim Hanlon with The Vertere Group.

The other thing Netflix is pretty good at? Acquiring licensing for other content. Hanlon said the company could offer a rotating mix of video games from other creators. It could even have its own console.

Whatever Netflix does, there’s a big knowledge gap to work out.

“Because if you’re saying, ‘Hey, I want to develop a gaming platform,’ that is an entirely new set of expertise Netflix will have to acquire,” said Mukul Krishna with Frost & Sullivan. 

Still, he said now is the time to acquire them. Better access to broadband and faster 5G cellular networks is making cloud gaming easier. The global gaming industry is booming with a little help from the pandemic. It’s worth more than $300 billion, according to Accenture. And with all the streaming competition, Netflix needs to maintain subscriber growth.

In an email, Netflix said: “Members enjoy engaging more directly with stories they love. We’re excited to do more with interactive entertainment.”

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