This Week’s MPN Podcast: Superhero Film Slump; Netflix Gaming; ‘Rocky III’ Steelbook and Premium Physical Content

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley open with an analysis of the current state of superhero movies. Shazam! Fury of the Gods premiered below projections and, coupled with the lackluster reception of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, calls into question how exhausted audiences are of this genre. Charlie and Charles take the contrarian opinion and call out how the “Shazam” sequel was in development before the James Gunn/Peter Safran DC leadership shakeup. They cover a few creative movies that have elevated the otherwise surface-level superhero genre such as the indie film Chronicle.

Netflix’s gaming offerings, having launched several dozen titles last year, are set to more than double in the coming year. Charlie is mortified that the No. 1 played game on Netflix is the tie-in game to its popular reality TV show “Too Hot to Handle,” but on closer inspection is intrigued by the variety of other games in its library. In spite of a reality TV-based game occupying the top spot, Netflix has ported multiple critically acclaimed indie games to its service, and holds exclusive rights to a mobile port of a recent, popular “Ninja Turtles” game. Last, given how the mobile gaming market absolutely dominates the total revenue from gaming and how just about everyone with a Netflix account also owns a smartphone, there is a lot more potential than one would expect for Netflix gaming to increase in popularity.

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Finally, Rocky III has gotten a Steelbook release at Best Buy as part of a series of steelbook releases for all four Rocky films. The hosts talk about other special editions of movies they own and the fun that comes from collecting limited releases of physical media. DVDs and Blu-ray may have passed their peak in retail consumption but enthusiasts will always have an interest in premium versions of their favorite films.

Netflix and Ubisoft Announce Three Mobile Games Coming to the Streamer

Netflix and Ubisoft Sept. 10 announced plans to bring three mobile games from popular game franchises to Netflix, starting in 2023.

First announced at Ubisoft’s annual digital event Ubisoft Forward, the three games will expand on the “Valiant Hearts,” “Mighty Quest” and “Assassin’s Creed” universes and will be available exclusively on mobile to Netflix members around the world with no ads or in-app purchases. 

A new “Valiant Hearts” game, sequel to Ubisoft’s game Valiant Hearts: The Great War, is directed by the original core team and “will retain the same DNA while featuring a new story,” according to a Netflix press release. It will be available to Netflix members in January 2023. After The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot mobile game, “The Mighty Quest” will come to Netflix in 2023 with a new game. “This time, the game will draw inspiration from the roguelike genre to deliver an experience that celebrates the series’ premiere hack-and-slash combat in a fresh and highly replayable format,” according to the press release.

“Assassin’s Creed” fans will be able to immerse themselves in the universe on Netflix in more than one way: in addition to the previously announced live-action series, an all-new mobile game is being developed exclusively for Netflix.

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“We’re thrilled to work with Ubisoft, whose track record creating memorable worlds for fans is unmatched,” Mike Verdu, VP of games for Netflix, said in a statement. “This partnership will provide our members with exclusive access to some of the most exciting game franchises as we continue to build a catalog of great mobile games for our members around the world.”

“As we continue to create great experiences on all platforms, we’re glad to be partnering with such an innovative and creative partner as Netflix,” Jean-Michel Detoc, chief mobile officer for Ubisoft, said in a statement. “I believe that this partnership will be a great opportunity for Netflix members to further explore our worlds and universes on mobile.”

Netflix Acquiring Finnish Mobile Game Developer for $72 Million

Netflix continues to ratchet up its video game presence, announcing March 2 that it entered into a combination agreement to acquire Finland-based publisher Next Games in a cash offer worth about $72 million. The company is no stranger to Netflix having partnered for the streamer’s Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales mobile game based on the platform’s popular original series.

“Next Games has a seasoned management team, strong track record with mobile games based on entertainment franchises, and solid operational capabilities,” Michael Verdu, VP of games at Netflix, said in a statement.

Verdu next the publisher would join Netflix as a “core studio” in a strategic region and key talent market to help expand the streamer’s internal game studio capabilities.

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“While we’re just getting started in games, I am confident that together with Next Games we will be able to build a portfolio of world class games that will delight our members around the world,” he said.

Founded in 2013 and led by CEO Teemu Huuhtanen, Next Games had approximately 120 employees at the end of 2021 and reported sales of approximately €27.2 million ($30 million) in 2020, with 95% of revenue generated from in-game purchases.

“Joining forces with the world’s largest streaming service, Netflix, presents an opportunity for a logical and exciting continuation of our strategy to craft interactive experiences for the world to enjoy,” Huuhtanen said. “This is a unique opportunity to level-up the studio on all fronts and continue on our mission together.”