Netflix nixes video game-based idea to keep kids hooked

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Mar 15, 2018

If you think streaming’s domination of TV, bolstered by a newly implemented push to create original content, is a move towards unregulated sinister behavior aimed at its rapidly monopolized audience, we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is, you’re right.

Netflix ended a prospective program that would give rewards to children for spending extra time on the streaming platform after testing and parental reactions veered sour. This program would reward viewers for finishing a large streak of episodes in a row of a children’s show like Voltron: Legendary Defender (for example).

This unlockable achievement didn’t give extra content, but was purely part of a positive feedback loop designed to keep kids watching — and, if some research is to be believed, addicted.

Parents and other advocates hated it, citing children who were already dangerously close to being addicted to screens. Netflix weathered this backlash and announced that it won’t be rewarding children for increased time spent watching its service.

“We’ve concluded the test for patches and have decided not to move forward with the feature for kids,” a Netflix spokesperson said, according to Variety. “We test lots of things at Netflix in order to learn what works well — and what doesn’t work well — for our members.” So that’s that. For kids, anyways.

Adult-based achievements, rewards, or digital badges could still come in the future to keep its audience hooked and racking up the minutes and hours spent binging on their programming. This plan might be dead, but its motivation is still pushing Netflix towards new ones.