Netflix’s debut in video games has come through the back door and without any impact
It was expected with great anticipation and it was packed to the brim, which is unusual. The Coliseum, that theater where interesting lectures are given that almost nobody covers because journalists go as we go, was the setting chosen by Netflix for show up at your first E3. I had been surprised that they chose this frame because a company of its size expects that burst like an elephant into a china shop. Nothing is further from reality.
The hour we spent yesterday in the company of Chris Lee (director of interactive games at Netflix), Stephanie Wise (director of interactive and digital media at the Jim Henson Company), Paul Ditcher (screenwriter of ‘Stranger Things’) and Dave Pottinger ( Chairman of Bonus XP, developers of the ‘Stranger Things’ game) felt elongated and empty. In fact, the only relevant headline, and you had to be really careful to catch it, is Ubisoft is going to develop a video game for Netflix. In the end, the logos of the future companies that will collaborate with Netflix were put on the screen and among them was that of the French giant. But no word from Lee on the matter.
The fundamental problem has been, to summarize it quickly, that with Netflix there is always hype. But it is a hype that the company itself has fed with how well it manages the timing of its marketing. And then of course, show a top down pixel-art game of ‘Stranger Things’ (which we already knew) and talk a little more about its RTS for Switch from ‘Dark Crystal’ (which we already knew). At the end of the conference, yet another game of ‘Stranger Things’ for mobiles with cartoon aesthetics; it will be an RPG with elements of augmented reality. Not a paltry screen was shown. Let’s not say gameplay anymore.
I had the opportunity to interview Reed Hastings a year ago; a long and very entertaining interview. In it, I had asked him precisely about video games and he had answered, flatly, that his platform he wasn’t going to get into the video game distribution business. They did consider exploring them as a marketing tool. So it has been; but even with that conservative approach what happened yesterday is something very poor.
In fact, the most interesting thing, by far, was discovering how in the writer’s room of ‘Stranger Things’, when you want to share an idea, you not only go to eighties references from the world of cinema or television. “We’re talking about ‘Dark Souls’ or ‘Silent Hill,” explained Ditcher, the series’ scriptwriter. He also noted that the Duffers They are careful gamers and fans to death of Miyazaki (Hidetaka). The last game they had played, according to him, was ‘Sekiro’.
Another missed opportunity, from my point of view, for these first two games, is that had their own entity outside the series. Because, obviously, those present said they had it but they also said that they follow the argument of the saga. They are not separate stories; complementary to what was told in the chapters. And I think that is a big mistake, because that is how games feel even more like mere marketing tools without their own entity.
At least the ‘Stranger Things’ novel, which I bought on the last trip to LA, explores its own plot that complements what is seen in the series, adding an interest per se to it. Copy, with some additions, what is seen on TV is an antediluvian approach to transmedia content.
Promises of the future? I repeat, the Ubisoft logo. I do not know if it will be an AAA, because I do not see Netflix very much for the work of investing too much in this new line, but at least it is a large company. But overall I think they should rethink your entry into the tenth artEspecially since they have won the hearts of the fans thanks to things like ‘Castlevania’, ‘Hi-Score Girl’, ‘Black Mirror’ or ‘Bandersnatch’. We expect more, Netflix. Much more.