Game news Arcane, The Witcher, Cyberpunk 2077 … Is Netflix the Eldorado of video games?
Today, when we think about video game adaptations on screen, it is first and foremost to Netflix that we turn to. Is the SVOD service the Eldorado of video games?
Founded in 1997 by two friends, Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, Netflix at the time was just a mail-order DVD rental service; an anecdote that recalls the video clubs of the time. It was in 2007 that the company really started out on the still-vague terrain of internet streaming in the US and soon got ready to release its first in-house series. House of Cards, produced by David Fincher among others. Fifteen years later, it’s a service fueled specifically by dozens of video game adaptations that imposes its dominance on the SVOD market.
Arcane, Edgerunners, The Witcher … The triumphant adaptations
Every year it’s the same story, Netflix goes all out by producing a slew of popular video game adaptations as if it’s conscientiously clinging to a well-found streak. After Arcane, a series from the League of Legends universe that won four Emmy Awards, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has shone in recent months.. The series is such a hit that it even increases the popularity of CD Projekt’s game. The adaptation made by the studio Trigger (Darling in the FranXX, Kill La Kill) serves as an excellent introduction to the universe by gradually introducing the key elements of Night City and is considered by many fans “the best advertisement you can do for the game“Edgerunners has accumulated 14.8 million watched hours in the six days following its launch; excellent results, however far from being enough to dethrone Arcane which counted 34.1 million hours in the same period.
On December 25, subscribers to the service will also be able to dive into the world of The Witcher, not with season 3, scheduled for 2023, but with Blood Origin. The spin-off takes place 1200 years before the events of the base series and will focus on the adventures of the first witcher and the Conjunction of the Spheres. It is probably thanks to the travels of the witcher that Netflix has managed to forge a solid reputation in the adaptation of JV, or even thanks to the Castlevania series, heir to excellent reviews. Think of any big triple A in video games today and you’ll find it a Netflix affiliate novelty, if not another SVOD platform. Ubisoft also recently confirmed a partnership with the Reed Hastings platform to develop an Assassin’s Creed game exclusively for the catalog. along with an adaptation of the live-action series currently in the works.
So obviously, the video game adaptations weren’t just a big hit on Netflix. The Resident Evil series, for example, is canceled after just one short season. Low audience scores led to the show’s abandonment, which however started with 72.7 million hours of viewing in the first week before slowly falling in front of the giant Stranger Things. The reception of the public and critics is anything but helpful with 55% critical score and 27% audience score on RottenTomatoes. As a general rule, the adaptations of the Capcom saga have rarely been able to grab attention. Either way, failure is a grain in the sand in the fertile ground of the gaming universes that Netflix cultivates by applying itself. Horizon, BioShock, Tomb Raider … they too will soon have the right to their own production on the platform, being able to count in their ranks on big names in the sector capable of ensuring great successes. And as we write these lines, a series adaptation of The Medium game has just been announced. If the decision platform isn’t quite specified, there’s little doubt when we know it’s backed by the executive producer of The Witcher series.
Adaptation yes, but real game, a little less …
When it released its results for the first quarter of 2022, Netflix indicated a drop of 200,000 subscribers for the first time in its history. A loss of momentum that is however explained by extenuating circumstances including the return to normal life after months of imprisonment and an international conflict: “As a result of international sanctions against Russia, Netflix lost over 700,000 paid Russian subscribers. Without this impact, the service would have earned an additional 500,000 subscribers overall”Says a spokesperson. However, the service knows that it will have to stay on course to increase its attractiveness and reassure investors in a sector that is now very well exploited by other companies such as Disney +, Amazon Prime and MyCanal. The current strategy is to fully bet on the video game market beyond simple adaptation. An action plan already set in motion by the acquisition a few months ago of the talented Night School Studio at the origin of the Oxenfree license and by that of Next Games for the distribution of mobile games.
Today Netflix even has its own video game section accessible on its platform. It offers 24 games, some very good, and plans to grow to 50 by the end of the year. But the balance for the moment is frankly bad: According to a new CNBC report, only 1.7 million subscribers interact with the service’s games daily, which would represent less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.. The colossus, however, does not give up and recently announced the creation of an in-house development studio based in Helsinki, Finland. It doesn’t have a particular name yet but it already has an experienced manager in the sector: Marko Lastikka, the former general manager of Zynga Helsinki. For Netflix, it’s still just the beginning:
We are just getting started and we still have a lot of work to do to deliver a great gaming experience on Netflix. Creating a game can take years, so I am proud to see how consistently we are building the foundations of our game studios in our first year and I can’t wait to share what we will be producing for years to come. – Amir Rahimi, VP of Netflix Game Studios