The landscape of digital entertainment is evolving, and no one knows it better than the streaming service titan, Netflix. In a new development, reports suggest that the company has been in talks with game developer Rockstar about releasing a Grand Theft Auto (GTA) title on its platform. The implications are enigmatic, as it could mean the introduction of a brand-new GTA game, or perhaps a streaming version of an existing title.
Unnamed insider sources, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal, describe these plans as part of Netflix's grand scheme to bring "higher-end" titles to its growing catalogue of video games. The goal? To license renowned video games to supplement its in-house production, adding more weight to its gaming wing.
Netflix's foray into gaming gained momentum with the acquisition of Night School Studio, the creators of the critically acclaimed Oxenfree. The company went on to expand its foothold by securing the developers of Cozy Grove - Spry Fox, and Next Games, the team behind the Stranger Things ‘puzzle RPG’ Puzzle Tales. A fruitful discussion with Grand Theft Auto could mean adding Rockstar to this prestigious list.
However, it's not all about bringing on-board external games. Netflix also has plans to adapt their existing properties into gaming formats. Popular shows such as Black Mirror and movies including Extraction could have their own gaming counterparts.
Despite the motivation, as per the Wall Street Journal's data, less than one percent of Netflix subscribers engage with its collection of video games, with only half of those users actually downloading and playing a game. However, it's not all grim; the number of downloads over the past year saw an increase, now around 70.5 million as per data intelligence firm Apptopia.
Netlfix's roster of downloadable games has some compelling offerings. Heavy hitters include Kentucky Route Zero, Immortality, Oxenfree 2, and Terra Nil, among 70 other titles. The real challenge for Netflix seems to be convincing subscribers that these games are worth their time and effort, particularly on a mobile screen.
Netflix's proactive approach to enlarging its gaming empire includes establishing its own studio which is headed by Chacko Sonny, the former Overwatch executive producer. Already tasked to work on a top-tier PC game, the odds are high that the new project will be a shooter, developed in Unreal.
On top of these endeavors, Netflix is testing the waters of streaming games directly to PC and mobile platforms, instead of offering them solely for download. The experiment is still in beta and is currently available in the UK and Canada only. The feature uses either a keyboard and mouse or a virtual controller on a phone screen, which could provide an unprecedented gaming experience for Netflix users.
This radical approach of blending video streaming with prominent titles of the gaming realm indeed hints at an interesting future for Netflix subscribers and the ever-growing gaming community at large. Whether or not these plans will prove successful is something only time will tell.
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