Netflix is testing a new feature that allows children to earn "patches" after watching episodes of a certain show. It essentially turns streaming into a collecting game, encouraging them to watch select programs Netflix has picked out.
As Variety reports, selected shows are marked with a red lock symbol for some reason. It's also worth noting that all participating programs are Netflix Originals, such as Trollhunters, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, and others, making it clear that this is an effort to encourage kids to watch more original programs instead of licensed shows such as Pocoyo, Pororo, and a ton more.
The patches are merely collectibles, it appears. They don't actually have any function other than being earned. Once kids have them, it's not clear what else they can do with what they've collected. Perhaps Netflix is still trying to think of ways on how to make this experience richer and more interactive, as it's hard to imagine anyone would watch a show just to get a patch that practically means and does nothing.
Why Is Netflix Trying To Make Watching Shows A Game?
As The Verge notes, some studies have shown that the gamification of a certain thing leads to increased engagement. However, they might not have long-lasting advantages as the novelty of badges, rewards, and, in the case of Netflix, patches, tend to wear off over time.
In a statement, Netflix explained why it's trying to implement such a feature:
"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." The company mentioned that patches may be removed altogether.
Reception has been mixed, at best. Some Twitter users who were lucky to be privy of the experiment claim the patch rewards system works for them, though most are confused about what purpose they serve.
What the heck are #Netflix patches?! pic.twitter.com/Mv2XG2XA3D — Kaley Belakovich (@KaleyBelakovich) February 24, 2018
It's worth noting that Netflix is known for testing a bunch of features, most of which don't end up being part of the service. Again, this might not even lead to official implementation, but it's a clear sign that Netflix is trying to figure out how to cater to its younger viewers.