After months of reading rave reviews on its original programming, animated library and impressive catalog of comics, I've finally gotten a subscription to DC Universe. I could barely contain my excitement to dive in once my shift was over, and hurriedly booted up my PS4 to download the app and binge Doom Patrol for the rest of my evening. After some time searching, I let out a heavy sigh. It happened again.
As streaming services become more numerous and prolific, console gaming has more often than not gotten the shaft when it comes to accessibility. DC Universe and other high profile streaming services work to ensure services like Apple TV and Roku are covered and have apps at the time of launch, but console gaming is very rarely top of mind. It's unacceptable, and it's time streaming services and consoles be better about working with one another.
For the record, DC Universe does acknowledge on its site that accessibility for gaming platforms is a popular request, but has not announced an expected release date or timetable for when it will appear. This feels like a big mistake to make, especially when there's so much crossover interest between those who like video games and those who like superhero shows and other media.
For me personally, my option to enjoy DC Universe at the moment is to either go out and purchase another smart device or download the app for iOS and make due. I've done the latter because I was planning to for comic book reading purposes anyway, but the experience of trying to watch a show on my cell phone was so unsatisfying I've vowed not to watch another until an app is available for my platform.
It's a tad over-dramatic, but a frustration that I'm sure a handful of the 60% of Americans who game daily (via ESA's 2018 Industry Facts) can empathize with. Gaming consoles were once only for playing video games, but for many, they've become the media box that allows them to stream without a smart television or buying an separate smart device. It's the perfect platform with a rather large install base all streaming companies should prioritize, yet not all do.
There's no greater evidence for this than the fact that after two years, Netflix is still unavailable on the Nintendo Switch. To put that in perspective, 2018's best-selling console and the fastest selling console of this generation still does not have the most popular streaming service, and there's been little updates on its progress to the point some have wondered if it will ever arrive. Why is this a thing?
It gets even more baffling the longer one thinks about it, as Netflix could've had an app ready on the Switch at the console's launch. This isn't the Xbox 360 era where streaming was still a relatively new thing, and Netflix has supported a plethora of Nintendo platforms in the past, including the Switch's far less successful predecessor, the Wii-U. Hell, even the two-screened 3DS has Netflix support, so there's definitely more to the story than what's being shared.
Now, part of the story behind this issue is that Nintendo supposedly didn't want a bunch of streaming services on the app initially. It's the classic Nintendo strategy, which is focusing on quality games, and putting everything else by the wayside. The Nintendo Switch is a gaming console first, and everything else second.
Nintendo can say that all day, but that attitude is primarily why my Switch isn't currently hooked up to my main television. Gaming consoles that offer more than just gaming have helped my life greatly, and my PS4 is on most nights regardless of whether I want to play a video game or not. I use it for YouTube, Netflix and Hulu almost more than actual gaming most weeks, as does my wife who doesn't game at all.
The list of streaming services available may have not affected my decision to buy my gaming consoles, but it has certainly affected how much each console has been used in my household. If my Switch had Netflix, it would overtake my PS4 as my primary television console. Because that hasn't happened, it sits undocked and charging, only to be brought out for when I'm feeling like rage quitting Tetris 99 after a few rounds.
Netflix needs to put out an app on Switch, but in general, this is more of a message for newcomers to the streaming game such as NBCUniversal and Disney+. As it stands, I can watch Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, WWE Network, Crackle and many other things on my PS4. It sucks that I can't enjoy DC Universe on it right now, almost so much so I'm considering cancelling until it's available.
Now that I've learned my lesson on checking for supported services, I'm definitely going to hold out and do the same for all future newcomers. Trust me, I really want to stream that impressive Disney+ library, but not so much so that I'm willing to buy a new device that supports it when I already have a gaming console that plays 90% of my streaming services. As I mentioned before, 60% of Americans play video games daily, this is not a small number.
Especially when considering that 72% of that gaming population are legal adults over the age of 18. Video game consoles have had more adults than minors for a while now, with the age of the average gamer set at 34. These are people with careers, families and a lot more time to stream than game if they have both. The gaming and streaming industry needs to recognize that and start prioritizing console supported apps at launch.
The time for that seems more important now than ever, as digital sales of video games tower over physical sales, and rumors that the next generation of consoles may be almost entirely reliant on gaming streaming services. The console gaming industry is realizing the paradigm shift and creating platforms like Xbox Game Pass, PSNow, and NES online to do so. Yet when it comes to streaming other media, there still seems to be a disconnect, and that's disappointing.
Regardless of who's to blame, it's clear that there needs to be a larger effort on both console makers and streaming services to get their products on services faster. It's mutually beneficial to both parties and keeps guys like me from moping and sighing heavily as they squint to watch the pilot of Doom Patrol on their smartphone. It may not be the biggest deal, but it's a problem both sides need to figure out sooner than later.
The streaming world has plenty of great shows on the docket for 2019, but so does traditional television. See the latest and greatest of what's premiering and what's coming back by visiting our midseason premiere guide.