Welcome to this week's Spotlight Saturday. Every Saturday we will look to spotlight different gaming companies, organizations, or top news. DM us on Discord or Twitter if you have any other topics you would like us to cover!
This week, we're taking a look into Netflix and its gaming potential.
Today's Drop is a ~5 min read!
Inception to Streaming Giant
We're all more than familiar with Netflix's streaming service. It's surprising nowadays to run into someone that doesn't hold a subscription themselves, or at least bum it off a friend or family member. But in its current state we tend to forget Netflix came from rather humble origins at a time where the media rental space was ruled by Blockbuster, and big logistics were belayed by lazy monopolistic glut.
Netflix was founded in late August, 1997 by Marc Randolph Reed Hastings. At their inception their business model revolved around physical delivery of DVD disks. Randolph was a co-founder of another company, MicroWarehouse, that specialized in mail-order computers and later moved on to VP of marketing at Boreland International, whereas Hasitngs was a computer scientist and mathematician who made his money selling Pure Atria for $700 million in 1997. At the time, it was Silicon Valley's biggest acquisition in history. The idea for the business was itself not a novel concept, however the two had already explored the possibility of VHS rentals by mail, but was thwarted by the high shipping costs understanding that the market just simply wouldn't bare such a cost when Blockbuster had a massive established footprint.
It wasn't until DVD's were first introduced to the US that their concept transformed into a viable opportunity. Netflix launched as the world's first online DVD rental store with only 30 employees and a library of 925 titles. At the time, ala-carte pricing dominated the online space, but in 2000 they dropped the single rental model and moved on to a subscription based service. Their model remained unchanged through 2007 where the introduction of their streaming service was first launched. Declining DVD sales hurried them into the online streaming sphere where they were not only no longer reliant on physical inventory, but also allowed them to expand to a global sales market, becoming the Netflix we know and love today.
So What Does This Have To Do With Gaming
The introduction of Netflix Original Content as early as 2006 with their Red Envelope Entertainment was something we hadn't really seen outside of the large studios with established exceptions in premium TV channels in HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. They ultimately closed shop on Red Envelope Entertainment in 2008, but returned to in-house production with Daredevel in 2015.
Dominating the online streaming space so early, it was evident that their convenient product delivery was highly adoptable by the masses, however the gaming community at large made up a large portion of their subscriber base being familiar with the online space. Since then, they've become the largest mainstream host of gaming related media to date, sporting titles such as Castlevania, multiple Resident Evil titles, Mortal Kombat, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, etc. The Witcher series, which just announced the drop of it's second season on December 17th of this year, is arguably their most successful Netflix Original gaming production to date. The company has flirted with games before through its interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style programming like Bandersnatch as well, one they have since not returned but received a fair amount of audience approval.
Netflix also recently announced its intentions to focus on sci-fi and fantasy content, that share many platitudes with the gaming genre as well as have high cross interest sharing with the gaming community.
With the rise of Netflix as the gold standard in media streaming, it's no surprise the model was lifted by content creation studios looking to cash in on the streaming space with the content the wholly own for some vertical integration gains. Amazon Prime, Disney+, as well as television network giants have since entered the space spelling a fair amount of competition for Netflix eating away at their market share as well as their ineffable library. The COVID-19 pandemic spelled disaster for many industries, however for the streaming space, it was the biggest boom they could have asked for and saw the acceleration of the industry as a whole.
The Future of Netflix
VR has struggled to gain mainstream acceptance, currently furloughed early adopters as a niche product, but there ramains so much fruit on the vine for acceptance by the amasses.
On Thursday, Netflix announced a deal with Shonda Rhimes, the producer of Brigerton, which the company has lauded as it's most watched series on the platform. This deal not only strengthens the relationship between them and Rhimes for additional programs from her production company, but also includes exclusive production and distribution of potential VR and gaming content, This would be Netflix's most public disdplay of interest in expanding into the VR space after years of tiptoeing around qustions around its expansion into the market.
Netflix has since declined to comment on particulars of their expansion, but it is more than on the table for discussion. Netflix's chief operating and product officer noted on Netflix's interest in gaming may be advancing the past April.
"We're trying to figure out what are all these different ways ... we can deepen that fandom, and certainly games are a really interesting component of that," Greg Peters said. "There's no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and an important modality to deepen that fan experience."
VR as a content delivery mechanism offers a transportive experience above and beyond the most immersive desktop experience and would pair quite well with their gaming target market. Netflix executives have routinely expressed that the company wanted to wait and see how VR progressed taking any larger steps into that media production sphere.
So the wait for Netflix delivered VR content is definitely not over, but we've also never been closer. Now we just wait for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime, we're going to enjoy Henry Cavill's rendition of Geralt of Rivia until the holidays.
That's all for today Quick Droppers, enjoy your weekend and we'll catch you on Monday.