Netflix is testing out a new feature for children that lets them earn “patches” for watching episodes of certain shows. The new feature gamifies the streaming experience for kids, incentivizing them to watch particular shows that Netflix has picked out, as reported by Variety.
Shows that have been selected are marked with red locks (for some unclear reason) for users who have been included in the test. Netflix has chosen films and TV shows that are all Netflix Originals, including Trollhunters, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Home, and The Magic School Bus Rides Again. You can’t actually do anything with the patches once you’ve earned them.
Some studies have pointed out that while gamification can lead to increased engagement with content, it might not have long-lasting benefits. “The positive effect of gamification on engagement appeared to lessen over time. This result is not surprising, given that extrinsic rewards such as badges and points tend to wear off after a short period of novelty,” says a study from the University of South Australia and Université Toulouse in France.
Netflix said in a statement to The Verge: “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.”
It added that although it was testing out this feature, patches weren’t guaranteed to be a permanent addition, “We learn by testing and this feature may or may not become part of the Netflix experience.”
Social media responses to the patches have varied from confusion to well, mostly, confusion as users question the purpose of the patches. But they’ve also worked on at least a handful of kids in convincing them to watch shows cherry-picked by Netflix.