Tons of ink has been spilled this week on Apple’s original video ambitions, and how to regard the Apple TV+ subscription package the iPhone maker unveiled earlier this week. Whether it will indeed be, as the company has been referring to it internally, a “Netflix-killer,” a flop, a vanity project, the future of television, none of the above — or even something else entirely.
In case you weren’t paying attention, it’s interesting to note how — even without knowing the pricing for Apple’s package or when it will actually arrive — the battle lines are already being drawn. Apple TV+, for example, will rely on the wattage of its A-list star power to bring in the viewers. While a streamer like Netflix is doing what it’s always done, continuing to fight its battle in the ongoing streaming wars completely on its own terms.
Take the image at the top of this post. It depicts, of course, a scene from Bandersnatch, which kicked off Netflix’s experimentation with interactive content that lets the user make choices about how the action unfolds. It’s one indication of how Netflix absolutely does not see itself as part of the same contest so many people imagines it’s caught up in — a kind of us-versus-them streaming war in which multiple companies like Netflix are doing variants of basically the same thing.
The company’s experiments — some which have emerged from Netflix’s internal hackathons — including its interactive content make it clear that Netflix feels comfortable making bold, ambitious bets that don’t fit neatly into how the streaming wars are unfolding for everyone else. A new job listing from the company underscores that reality, holding up Bandersnatch as a testament to the company’s creativity for good measure.
While its competitors have caught on to the formula of throwing gobs of money at creators to try and land that next great viral TV series, this new job listing (for a “narrative designer”) shows that Netflix is, among other things, looking for people who have experience … designing video games. “You will work closely with a talented team of designers, producers, content executives, and external content producers to help facilitate and create the next generation of story experiences for millions of Netflix viewers around the world,” the job listing reads.
“Our ideal candidate will be equally comfortable reviewing creative materials and designing complex user flows … Above all, you have deep expertise helping design and craft interactive narratives across a range of mediums (video, games, apps) and platforms (TV, mobile, web) for a diverse audience.”
A slew of new streaming contenders are going to come onto the scene later this year, including Apple’s offering as well as Disney+. All of this including the job listing above is a reminder, in case you needed one, that Netflix will compete the way it always has. By trying to correctly anticipate where the next great shift is going to come from, a la the jump from mail to streaming, and beating everyone else to the punch. Whether that includes a need for video game designers, or something else it hasn’t even thought of yet.