Netflix backtracks on Qwikster, 'still considering' games

Online rental service cans plans to bifurcate streaming, DVD-by-mail branding; game integration now a maybe.

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Netflix is on quite the tear when it comes to rankling its subscriber base. After hiking its subscription rate by as much as 60 percent in July, the company announced last month that it would effectively be splitting itself in two. The Netflix brand would offer on-demand movie streaming through its website, while a second website, called Qwikster, would handle by-mail physical media.

Expect to continue seeing Netflix's iconic red envelope in your mailbox.

However, the Qwikster brand that emerged from that decision has proven to be short-lived. Today, Netflix announced that it has canceled plans to spin off its by-mail physical media business into the Qwikster brand. As a result of that decision, Netflix subscribers will continue to use the company's website for physical media and streaming content.

In a company blog post, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while July's pricing changes were necessary and will be retained, following through with the rebranding plan, "would make things more difficult" for consumers.

When Netflix announced Qwikster, the company also revealed plans to add Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii games to the subscription service as a premium priced offering. However, it appears as if those plans are now in question. Speaking to GameSpot, Netflix VP of corporate communications Steve Swasey would confirm only that the company is "still considering" the inclusion of games.

That tone is a marked change from the initial Qwikster announcement, where Hastings wrote, "Members have been asking for video games for many years, and now that DVD-by-mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done."

Discussion

92 comments
SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

This is what really happened. They decided to do the price hike/split. More people cancelled their accounts with them than they anticipated so they had to come up with a "reason" for the price split. "Quikster" was invented and the email was sent out. Now that the hoopla has quieted down and the unexpected exodus is quelled they come up with a reason to keep things the way they were simply because they never wanted to split their business. Netflix is a company. And companies are in it for the money. Beyond that, I honestly think they know streaming is the future and by collecting more money on their "costlier" distribution area (physical discs bought, licensed and mailed) they can offset that cost AND bring in more capital to bolster their streaming catalog. For someone like me, that has only ever used their streaming service, I'm cool with the price increase. That's mainly because it doesn't affect me negatively. I do understand their physical media customers' outrage though, and had I been like them, I can guarantee I would no longer be a customer with them at all.

codename-60091
codename-60091

rich to rent poor to the buy! it makes perfect sense!

kwanzudood
kwanzudood

When these companies create price hikes, they should be glad people are paying anything at all, it's so easy to just download pirated movies and TV from the internet.

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

@Wormkid_64 Like I said I would have Blockbuster already if they did consoles but when I switch 2 Dish this Jan.I'm gonna drop Netflix

shabulia
shabulia

I would be okay with the price increases if it meant a larger and more recent selection coupled with HD streaming capabilities for my 360, PS3, and BluRay player. I'm sure that's all coming but as it stands, the hike is price only means I'm paying more money for the same ol' same ol'. I'm not cool with that. Wanna raise the prices, Netflix? Deliver a better product and I just might come back.

mustained13
mustained13

Have been Netflix free for about five years now. Several times they sent me wrong and broken discs. I passed this off as an honest mistake but when it happened a couple more times, that was it for me. Tried the streaming service through my Xbox, but there was nothing offered worth watching.

Epicurus-Reborn
Epicurus-Reborn

and further more, one of the reasons streaming has such a lower/worse selection than the DvDs has to do with property rights. They cant stream things until they pay for it. So if streaming does reach the selection level of the DvDs, chances are its gonna cost a lot more. or hopefully netflix can slowly buy rights as they please with out jacking up the price. (breaking bad is a good example. glad to see it in the instant que finally ^.^)

Epicurus-Reborn
Epicurus-Reborn

@stevetwo it really has to do more with the selection. Streaming your limited to whats online, with the DvDs you can choose almost anything. Some people just prefer the much bigger selection of movies to watch.

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

Really, who uses DVDs anymore? Low res, low quality. I'd rather watch HD through streaming.

blade5o
blade5o

Jeez its sad how this prime company is late in the game considering this addition. Its a bit hilarious though that they stole Blockbuster's customers (@ BB's fault) and know they're following in their footsteps

Worm7774
Worm7774

i like netflix streaming (doesn't have the newest movies or the best, but some of the movies they play are decent and never heard of) and it's nice to watch some older tv shows IN ORDER unlike the way TV channels show old episodes. I dropped the dvd rentral from netflix first day of price changes..but would consider game rentals if it was like $8 a month like a dvd rental :)

sulaymanqazi
sulaymanqazi

I honestly recommend redbox way more than netflix.

gamerboy100
gamerboy100

"In a company blog post, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while July's pricing changes were necessary and will be retained, following through with the rebranding plan, "would make things more difficult" for consumers." Right, because everyone knows that unannounced price hikes don't make things more difficult for customers... jackass.

gix47
gix47

netflix having some issues

shakensparco
shakensparco

I wouldn't care about this games so much if freaking Red Box would get a better selection!

Alex0022
Alex0022

@maelstrom Good point. How long before we are forced to watch ads on netflix streaming?

awheaten
awheaten

I have netflix on my Computer (streaming), PS3 and Wii (I know but I got it for my daughter). I must say, that I am disappointed they've raised the price so high. But, the streaming is still affordable. But, I think what happened is that when the finanical people got back to him (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings) about how much its going to be to actually do the service and how much the price is going to increase for the customer, I think he now trying to back track. If its over 20 bucks to do the service, then I think they should just scrap it. Just get better movies on Netflix streaming. I mean there are some good flash back movies (spaceballs) and tv shows. But, there are no good new movies i.e. transformers and they seem to be far behind in the amount of movies too. I'm just saying the steaming selection is good but it could be better and has great potential. I am a netflix fan.

Maelstrom52
Maelstrom52

@Cwagmire21 Well, I know what Netflix is trying to do, and it's not questionable...it's just lofty. Essentially, Netflix wants to eventually become a replacement for cable TV. What's costing so much money is the rights to stream TV shows right after they air. Basicallly, it's what Hulu has been doing, but they are going after some pretty sought after programming and buying exclusivity for it. They spent $30 million for the rights to show AMC shows like Mad Men exclusively and they are going after a bevvy of high-quality programming. What I imagine will ultimately end up happening is basically just a completely "on-demand" television service that you can stream.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

For such a successful company, they sure have been doing some questionable actions as of late. They getting cocky or were they just lucky to begin with? Probably the former, like most successful companies. Trying to have their cake and eat it too. (Not even including price hike due to Hollywood)

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

@Son_of_Bmore REALLY!?! Happy days! I'm talking to my family about this,and if they do indeed have such streaming and a good selection,then goodbye Netflix! I never knew ya!

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

1. A huge e-mail informing the massive amount of subscribers that things are going to change. 2. Hastings then sends a minuscule e-mail about how stupid they were.

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

Sounds like netflix is going to royally screw the pooch if they don't start getting the act straight.

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

@Wormkid_64 Blockbuster does have streaming & it works very well & has way better selections on streaming then Netflix & if u sign wit Dish Network u get it 4 free up 2 a year & bein able 2 return them 2 the store & pickin up is awesome but the problem is u can only stream on ur PC & on Dish network boxes & if they would start using game consoles & advertise more I think they could & would surpass Netflix

Dassam
Dassam

Although I didn't like the price increase, from what I've read they had to. The big studios wanted them to pay $300 million for same content they paid $30 million for a few years ago. The splitting of streaming and DVD services was stupid. I've been thinking about cancelling my subscription anyways, but if that went through I would have certainly cancelled. And include games for free? LOL. You guys must be kids. That would cause the company to fail. I hope they do start renting games though, maybe if someone has the streaming/dvd/game plan they would give a discount for having all 3.

mopar_tech
mopar_tech

they should include the games after raising their priceses at no charge as question of good faith for their coustomers

Maelstrom52
Maelstrom52

Exactly, Vega! They still don't get it. No one was bothered by them having two websites. It had everything to do with them raising their prices by 60%. It's not like we don't get it...they obviously thought they had the market cornered and could do whatever they wanted, but Blockbuster actually wised up for once, and took advantage of their hubris. Now Blockbuster offers $9 a month for DVD/Blu-Ray/Games service (at the most basic rate), and they're not the only big fish in the sea anymore. Well boo-fricking-hoo! It's called competition...that's how capitalism works! If Neftlix wants to compete they're going to have to figure out a way to match the competition.

endorbr
endorbr

Netflix... WTF is your problem?

vega13mv
vega13mv

the only thing that made "things more difficult" was paying your ridiculous bill you condescending douche.

robde
robde

Nexflix is the best at what they do. Yea the plans sucks after They want up on price . but for 8 bucks a months on my new led tv with my apple tv and iPad 2 I'm loving it . Smart move by Netflix keep it on one URL

bluespire1
bluespire1

I Dumped Netflix went back to Blockbuster and I have Gamefly the best in the game renting Biz... I do not like to be told to switch to digital media and dump the physical one in an exchange for a price increase. Blockbuster may not stream but they are now cheaper for the physical media.. and that's good enough for me (^0^)

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@bleedgreen2-1-5, Yeah, pretty much the same w/ me too (I dropped by-mail before the hike); but I won't lie I'm still not wholly impressed w/ the streaming anymore either, for just the things you stated. For all the claims they've made of saying how the split was to better help the 'streaming end', I've yet to see the amazing improvements. My dad is the only reason I keep it as he's far more into finding things to watch on it than me.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

@Son_of_Bmore Yeah that's the one thing. I can watch Netflix on my Wii,3DS,PC,and 360,but there's almost no new mainstream content to watch. If I were Blockbuster,to save my butt,I'd get into the movie streaming gig and kick Netflix out.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

I used to love Netflix. But then they stopped getting new episodes of things like Bones,Lie to Me, and Mythbusters. Then they hike prices 60% and say its to "help customers better understand the service." o.0 Then they stop getting cool movies and have mostly B-rated junk that hasn't seen the light of day in 20 years or more. This Hastings guy is killing his own company. Raising prices,being openly stubborn about it,and having virtually nothing worth watching anymore,coupled with the fact that their streaming contract with Starz is up in February makes a bad mix. If I were Starz,I wouldn't want to go back into business with someone who has lost a huge chunk of their consumers and whose stocks dropped by somewhere around half. I hope some other company jumps on this opportunity and provides the same service Netflix used to,plus games,regularly updated with modern media,for a similar price, and makes Hastings cry when his company dies. I REALLY want him to hurt for this.

la-leyenda
la-leyenda

Good. This was a horrendous decision. There's no reason to separate DVD rentals. Too many shows and movies are still not available in streaming.

nccpeter
nccpeter

Crying out loud. Just purchase gamefly and be done with it. One stop for movies and games.

alkaline_DnB
alkaline_DnB

Netflix was losing customers anyway and they thought the merge and splitting the services would be smart and save customers, but I think it just pissed more people off. At least they knew to cut their losses early and back out. Redbox still owns and has given every rental service a run for their money and will continue to dominate. Who doesn't love a huge, affordable library with NO MONTHLY FEES.

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

But the problem that got them in trouble in the first place before they made it even worst is still there of separating dvds and streaming and not offering a combine plan for both at a reasonable price. Ever wanted to just smash one of these CEOs heads with a brick, a brick that might give them a sense of reality and reason.

leeko_link
leeko_link

Oh Netflix if you really want to do videogame by mail that much just partner with Game Fly, not Qwikster.

StaticKornSlipX
StaticKornSlipX

Nothing beats brick and mortar business...just sayin'. Amazon is the exception.

sagameister3
sagameister3

Netflix 'overall' is still better than most other alternatives i.e. Amazon prime, redbox, blockbuster etc. Tbh, if they just reduce their price (doesn't even have to be back to original) they'd definitely be setting some things right again.

MOwens9512
MOwens9512

Well glad they backed out of that Qwikster thing but they pretty much put themselves in a little PR nightmare. The price hikes didn't help and the fact that they were going to seriously split into two seperate services probably caused some people to drop them and/or run to the competition. Definitely didn't help that Amazon announced that all of their streaming content is free once you get a Prime account for $70 a year either, and that it will be available on the new Kindle Fire.

bradocki
bradocki

Netflix was good, now it's a lame gimmick, tricking ppl every way they can to keep on float, just a proof of how things can go wrong if u get too greedy!

Prime05
Prime05

Netflix needs newer titles to stream. Still, I'm glad that they aren't splitting in two.

jjarvis92
jjarvis92

try instant watcher website.

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

man I dont use netflix by mail so I just stream off my PS3 and Wii only problem i have is that they hardly have anything worth watching anymore and they take forever to add new titles. Seems like 80% of what I search for is unavailable, not that I search for odd things, i mean they dont even have some pretty big mainstream movies

superjenius
superjenius

Renting games will surely piss off Sony and MS, so I'm thinking part of the reason for the split was so that they could rent games without jeopardizing on-demand apps through XBox and PS3. In any case, I'm glad they aren't splitting.

Spacerac
Spacerac

I just hate that I pledged never to go to Blockbuster again after the manager there inconvenienced me, and then Netflix betrayed me like this. Now what do I do? I only just cancelled the DVD part because I didn't think it was worth it to keep.

Gamingclone
Gamingclone

This is probably asking for too much and would probably cause another unwanted price hike, but if they do include video games in their service, will they eventually add the ability to stream video games?

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Smartest thing Netflix has done all year...too bad they pissed off half their customers before realizing they were being stupid.