Netflix means business in mobile, that’s for sure. In Next Games it has bought a studio with invaluable experience in bringing TV shows and games a little closer together.
Next’s two Walking Dead games have been a smart experiment in how live in-game events can be crafted around big TV series moments, while also keeping the brand present and active between seasons.
That’s got to be a big part of the thinking behind this €65m / $71m acquisition.
Currently, where Netflix games (like Next’s very own Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales) are part of an existing IP, they’re extensions or spin-offs, one step removed from the ‘main’ show. With Next Games on board, the relationship between interactive and passive media can be a lot closer.
It’s also a little bit about geography. Netflix now has a foothold in mobile gaming Mecca Helsinki. Indeed, Netflix games VP Michael Verdu described Next as “a core studio in a strategic region and key talent market” as part of the announcement. As if the recruitment market wasn’t already white hot.
The last bit in this line catches the eye, too. Verdu again: “The team has successfully created and operated live service games with a dedicated fan base across the globe who play over long periods of time.”
Keeping popular Netflix brands present and alive could also become part of the Next Games remit. We’ve all seen how quickly Netflix hits burn bright then fade away – so when the next Squid Game does comes along, now Netflix has the tools to keep audiences engaged until it can pump out another series.
The Next Games / Netflix deal isn’t your average acquisition, then. It’s a sign that Netflix wants to tear down the divide between passive and interactive media, and turn its brands into media products that have a longer tail than a typical series drop.