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Game

Less than 1 percent of Netflix’s subscribers are playing its games

Netflix’s entry into the gaming market is off to a slow start. According to an analysis performed by Apptopia on behalf of , the streaming giant’s games have been downloaded a total of 23.3 million times and average about 1.7 million daily users. Put another way, less than one percent of Netflix’s 221 million customers are taking advantage of the games included in their subscriptions.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. In the past, the company indicated it did not expect its gaming division to be profitable immediately. “We’re going to be experimental and try a bunch of things,” Netflix COO Greg Peters told investors during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings calls last year.

Still, the question that’s probably on everyone’s mind is how long Netflix is willing to wait to see if it made the right bet, especially after it during its most recent quarter. Other lofty bets — like the company’s in-house fan blog, Tudum — were the subject of cutbacks after only a few months of spending.

The company has shared precious few details on how much it has spent expanding its portfolio beyond TV shows and movies, but most signs point to a significant investment. Earlier this year, the company paid $72 million to , the studio behind Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales. More recently, it secured exclusive mobile rights to beloved indie titles like Spiritfarer and . The company is unlikely to make similar investments in the future if its current ones don’t pan out.

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Game

Engadget Podcast: Diving into the Pixel 6a and Netflix’s latest mess

Is the Pixel 6a the best Android phone under $500? Tune in for Cherlynn’s review! This week, Devindra and Cherlynn also discuss why losing almost a million subscribers was actually a good thing fo Netflix. And they dive into Qualcomm’s latest hardware for smartwatches, as well as the latest updates from Twitter’s ongoing fight with Elon Musk.

Listen above, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you’ve got suggestions or topics you’d like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

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Cherlon Musk

Say hello to “Cherlon Musk.” (Listen to the Musk/Twitter discussion for context!

via Mark Dell

  • The Pixel 6a is the best midrange Android phone on the market now – 1:53

  • Netflix lost a million subscribers, and that’s a good thing? – 17:11

  • Delaware judge allows faster trial for Twitter v. Elon Musk – 29:56

  • Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked is happening on August 10 – 32:42

  • Leaked files show that Uber was shady from early in its life – 37:41

  • Qualcomm unveils wearable-focused Snapdragon W5 chips – 42:21

  • Alienware’s m17 R5 gaming laptop is a beast that few people need – 46:25

  • The new Instagram Map is like Google Maps, but with more selfies – 48:16

  • OnePlus 10T launch set for August 3 – 52:19

  • Working on – 53:06

  • Pop culture picks – 58:01

Livestream

Credits
Hosts: Devindra Hardawar and Sam Rutherford
Guest: Lisa Song from ProPublica
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O’Brien
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos
Graphic artists: Luke Brooks and Brian Oh

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Game

Netflix’s animated ‘Tekken: Bloodline’ series will arrive on August 18th

Netflix has launched a full trailer for its upcoming animated adaptation of Tekken, Bandai Namco’s famous fighting game franchise, and with it comes the show’s premiere date. Tekken: Bloodline is arriving on the streaming service on August 18th and will be available in several languages, including English and Japanese. The show focuses on Jin Kazama and takes place between the events of Tekken 2, which features his mother Jun Kazama as one of The King of Iron Fist Tournament competitors, and Tekken 3. Jin made his debut in the franchise’s third entry released back in 1996 after losing his mother and his home to Ogre, one of the franchise’s antagonists. 

In the series, Jin trained under his grandfather Heihachi Mishima, the tournament’s founder, in his quest for revenge. You’ll hear Heihachi tell Jin to shed the pacifist Kazama ways and to “stoke [his] Mishima fire.” Yes, Heihachi sounds positively villainous, because he’s the franchise’s main antagonist. The trailer also shows faces that would be familiar to long-time fans, as characters from the games also appear in the show. They include Hwoarang, Julia Chang, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix, Ling Xiaoyu and Heihachi’s son Kazuya Mishima.

You can watch show’s official trailer below:

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Game

Fortnite gets League of Legends skin to celebrate Netflix’s Arcane series

Saturday, November 6, marked the premiere of Riot Games’ animated Netflix series Arcane based on the hit video game League of Legends. Here to help fans celebrate is Epic Games with a new Jinx skin in Fortnite. The announcement comes amid the launch of League of Legends in the Epic Games Store alongside other titles like Valorant.

The first few episodes of Arcane are now live on Netflix, finally offering League of Legends players the animated series they’ve anticipated for years. The show revolves around two champions and their origin stories, one of whom is Jinx — the character Fortnite players can now purchase from the battle royale game’s Item Shop.

As tends to be the case with crossover launches in Fortnite, the skin is part of a bundle that includes related items like the Pow Pow Crusher Pickaxe, Jinx’s Dream Monkey Back Bling, and the Playground Instrumental Lobby Track. Buyers also get the Katchoo! and Wreaking Havoc loading screens, plus the Jinxed Spray.

Players who want only some of these items have the option of purchasing them with V-Bucks separately. The Arcane Jinx skin on its own is priced at 1,500 V-Bucks, which is the equivalent of around $15, while the Arcane Jinx Bundle is only a bit more at 1,800 V-Bucks.

The Pow Pow Crusher pickaxe is also offered as a standalone purchase for 800 V-Bucks, while the Playground Instrumental Lobby Track is available at 200 V-Bucks. As with other crossover bundles in the Fortnite Item Shop, the offering will eventually be removed and may not return in the future.

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Game

Netflix’s Video Game Platform Fails to Read the Room

The dream of a “Netflix of gaming” has long been the most exciting prospect in the industry, and now Netflix itself has finally entered the gaming space with its own games service. At this point, we’ve already seen some of the biggest companies in the world try and enter the gaming space — and universally fail. Even companies that are focused on games, such as Sony, haven’t fully cracked the nut that is a successful game streaming platform.

Netflix is the gold standard for movie and TV streaming, so from the outside it makes sense that it would know how to make a great streaming service for games as well. However, streaming a game and streaming a movie are two completely different beasts. More than that, though, making an appealing game service is not at all similar to making an appealing TV and movie service. Looking at how the platform has rolled out, plus the context of Netflix’s business as a whole, it reads like a desperate move on Netflix’s part to differentiate itself from its competition — companies that have already eaten its lunch.

Read the room

There are plenty of examples of why gaming, streaming or otherwise, is not a space companies can just slide into easilyGoogle Stadia and Amazon Luna had the might of two of the biggest companies in the world behind them and both services have struggled to take off. I’m sure Netflix isn’t short on cash, but throwing a war chest of money at a gaming service won’t magically make it work.

Even if it did, Netflix has yet to show how much it’s willing to invest into gaming. The service launched with five mobile games, and Netflix has only made one power play by acquiring Oxenfree developer Night School Studios. The streaming giant is merely dipping its toe in the waters when it comes to content.

The problem is that non-gaming companies try to fit gaming — both the consumption and creation — into their own structures. Netflix may have a great pipeline for getting series and films made, but that won’t apply to making a game. Google was so poor at managing its own game studio that it shut it down before it even produced a single title.

Half measures

TV and film streaming used to be Netflix’s game, and no one else could even compete. Now, there’s tons of options out there, each with exclusive content that has helped them peel back Netflix’s death grip on an industry it built. We’ve seen reports that it’s quickly losing subscribers and the pivot to gaming seems like a way to address that. It seems like an easy power play on paper. Just throw some games on the service people already use, right? Who wouldn’t subscribe to Netflix if they got all the TV and movies, plus free games? Its idealistic, but doesn’t inherently work in practice.

A reactive move into gaming can be destined to fail, especially if Netflix’s gaming launch is any indication of how it plans to continue this service. The five games, which is already a slim offering, are all small mobile games that have, at best, middling reviews. A service with bad games, or even just OK ones, isn’t going to appeal to many players. Unlike TV and movies, people won’t simply binge a game that’s boring.

Games aren’t passive. They aren’t something you can just throw on in the background and half pay attention to. Netflix is the king of dumping tons of content on users. Some of it is bad, some good, and once in a while there’s a gem that really takes off. Games don’t work that way. It’ll take time and work to develop and offer a quality library of games. There won’t be those hits to find otherwise.

Netflix, at least in its initial rollout, hasn’t shown that it’s terribly serious about games. It made two games based on Stranger Things, but both are small-scale, seemingly low-budget titles. It owns one studio, which has barely had time to start working on a game for the service. Nothing about the lead-up to the rollout indicates that Netflix is really dedicated to games as a core branch of its business yet — and you can’t be successful in games with half measures.

Who cares?

Netflix's "Stranger Things" games on mobile.

The final, and most important, aspect that Netflix seems to have failed to grasp is that simply having games won’t make people care. Again, we can return to Stadia and Luna as prime examples. Neither cloud gaming service has offered players the kind of “platform seller” that pushes players to adopt platforms. Exclusives are an obvious draw, but even just having strong games from third parties could work. Shooting Hoops and Card Blast aren’t exactly head-turning games. If a launch lineup isn’t remotely exciting, why should potential players buy in?

Having games on a service alone isn’t a selling point. Cereal boxes have games on them. You can play games on the back of an airplane seat. It’s hard to be in a situation where you can’t play a game these days, so long as you’re near anything with a screen. The difference is quality, not quantity. At the moment, Netflix provides no reason to draw people away from playing on console, PC, or even other mobile games. Until it scores some big, quality games, I’d rather do the maze and word search on the back of a Lucky Charms box.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Netflix’s Video Game Service is Available Today With 5 Games

Netflix announced that its new gaming initiative has officially launched today, November 2nd. Five games are currently available on the mobile platform, including Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3: The Game. Netflix promises to add more titles to the platform later on.

In August, Netflix rolled out its gaming service in Poland as part of a test. Originally, only players in Poland had access to Stranger Things 1984 and Stranger Things 3: The Game. However, now the service is available worldwide and has added three new games to the platform: Shooting Hoops, Card Blast, and Teeter Up. The only requirement to play these games is to have a Netflix account and an Android device. The games do not require an additional fee in order to play them and there are no microtransactions.

Netflix’s press release goes into more detail about how players can customize their gaminge tim. The gaming service can be used on multiple devices on a single account, however, it cannot exceed the normal limit for Netflix accounts. Netflix suggests if players want to use the gaming service on more devices, they should sign out of unused devices or remove access from the Netflix website.

Each game also offers the same language options as the normal streaming service does. The gaming platform is not available for the kids’ platform, and if the Netflix account requires a PIN to access, the PIN must also be used to play the games that are available. Netflix allows players to play titles offline, which will probably require a full download of the game onto the preferred device.

The Netflix gaming service is available worldwide today on Android devices.

Editors’ Choice




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Netflix’s ‘League of Legends’ show is getting an immersive IRL event

The animated series Arcane will and Riot Games is marking the launch with an in-person immersive experience connected to the series. The publisher teamed up with Secret Cinema to host the Arcane experience, which will only be available in Los Angeles.

You’ll get to explore the Undercity, where you’ll delve into the origins of two LoL champions. You’ll take on missions, find secret hideouts, form alliances and evade enforcers. The ending of the story will be different depending on the choices you make, so Arcane might encourage repeat visits.

Riot is pushing into another realm of entertainment here. “For the launch of Arcane, we really wanted to find the right partner who shared our vision for bringing such a rich IP and to life in an interactive, immersive way,” Brandon Miao, cross-product experiences and partnerships lead for Riot Experience, said. “Bringing players new, authentic out-of-game experiences that tie back to the narrative of the show is a first for us, and something we are incredibly excited to share with players as we expand to entertainment.”

The Arcane experience will debut on November 21st and tickets cost $70. You’ll get your first chance at snagging a ticket through a presale that starts on October 13th at 3PM ET. You can sign up for ticket alerts . General admission starts 24 hours later.

Secret Cinema has built a reputation for creating immersive experiences based on movies and, more recently with its Stranger Things adaptation, TV shows. This is the first time it has taken on a project with roots in gaming.

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Tech News

Amazon comes for Netflix’s throne with $8.45 billion MGM purchase

The ruthless war between the world’s leading video-on-demand companies reached a climax when the Amazon acquired the legendary Hollywood studio MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer) in a deal worth US$8.45 billion.

The sale of MGM on May 26 followed more than six months of negotiations. The American studio known for its roaring lion had been weakened by major financial difficulties before the pandemic. The prolonged closure of movie theatres was the final nail in its coffin.

Although the MGM studio had a low market value (estimated at only US$5.5 billion a few months ago), several giants of the digital industry, including Apple, were interested in buying it. But it was Amazon that won the bid and made history by becoming the first player in the video streaming industry to acquire a major Hollywood studio.

In buying MGM, Amazon is clearly demonstrating its ambition to dethrone Netflix. The Prime Video service already has nearly 200 million users, which puts it close to its Californian competitor with 208 million subscribers. The race for the top spot in the video-on-demand market has never been tighter.

As part of my research on discoverability and access to diversity in online content, I regularly monitor the transformations and imbalances that are being brought on by the digital distribution platforms that control the global market for cultural goods and services.

Amazon takes the lion’s share!

In this age of multi-platform consumption, the most effective way for a company to stand out and attract audiences constantly searching for novelty and diversity is to regularly expand and renew its catalogue. In the war the different platforms are waging against each other to secure exclusive content, the ability to invest in the acquisition or production of original content has become crucial ammunition.

A platform that cannot offer enough new content quickly to gain and retain subscribers will not be able to compete with its competitors. The Wall Street Journal speculated that the acquisition of MGM was a sign that Amazon was having difficulty producing enough content to satisfy the demand of its Prime Video subscribers.

In the gigantic video club that the internet has become, players cannot rely solely on the quality of their catalogue the way Apple does with the Apple TV+ service. In the eyes of subscribers, the number of titles available is as important, or even more important, than the quality of the content being offered.

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