In recent weeks, Netflix has been testing a “gamified streaming experience” aimed at kids. The idea was for kids to collect digital patches for watching episodes of particular shows. The test had all the hallmarks of a loyalty system, with straplines like “8 patches to unlock!” appearing below select shows, along with a red padlock on episodes still to be watched.
The idea was only ever a trial — and Netflix does test a lot of stuff on small groups that it never rolls out worldwide — but a quick negative backlash means that the company has already killed any plans to gamify binge-watching.
In its initial statement to Variety, Netflix was its usual chipper upbeat self. “We are testing a new feature on select kids titles that introduces collectible items for a more interactive experience, adding an element of fun and providing kids something to talk about and share around the titles they love,” a spokesperson said. We learn by testing and this feature may or may not become part of the Netflix experience.”
As it turns out, the last part of that statement was particularly prescient. Following some mild social media outrage — turns out, parents aren’t a fan of their kids being even more addicted to screens — the company told Buzzfeed that it’s killing the feature. “We’ve concluded the test for patches and have decided not to move forward with the feature for kids. We test lots of things at Netflix in order to learn what works well – and what doesn’t work well – for our members.”
More than anything else, this shows that companies are becoming increasingly cognizant of the power they can wield, and they’re considering more than just their own engagement metrics when rolling out new features. Oh, and whining on social media actually did something for once!