Crunchyroll has long been known as a destination for anime fans to legally stream shows. What started as free fan service has established itself and become a legitimate business. In recent years they’ve expanded their content offerings beyond just anime. The new Crunchyroll roster includes more live-action movies and shows, with the famous attention to anime, manga, and Asian entertainment that the platform is famous for. Expanding their content library allows them to attract a wider audience, sure, but it seems that Crunchyroll is moving even from the passively absorbed formats of TV and reading to the new venture of gaming.
Where is this move coming from? And what can anime fans expect from the famed international anime hub? Take a look at our theories for how gaming on Crunchyroll will pan out.
What is Crunchyroll offering?
Crunchyroll has said they plan to craft immersive games that deeply resonate with anime fans, allowing them to “step inside” the shows’ worlds through interactive gameplay. The games will be designed specifically for mobile platforms.
In 2021, they announced the formation of Crunchyroll Games, a new division focused on developing and publishing games based on popular anime IPs. Their first announced title is an RPG mobile game based on the anime series “The Rising of the Shield Hero.” The game is being developed with Japanese studio Kadokawa and is expected to launch sometime in 2023. But a good RPG needs a good fantasy name generator for a good fantasy name, so take a look at this to build your anime persona.
A global reach and a casual reach
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but Crunchyroll is a US-based company. Their headquarters are in Texas, their audience is the western world. But there are signs that they are trying to expand around the world. For example, Crunchyroll is making its streaming service available in more regions worldwide. Increased accessibility allows them to tap into new markets and grow their subscriber base.
And, like any fandom, anime has its “hardcore” fans. Otaku, the Japanese word for “geek”, are considered the Swifties of the anime world, with encyclopaedic knowledge of anime and manga and devoting a significant portion of their time and energy to those hobbies, including collecting merchandise and attending conventions. So, pretty much like a lot of geeks in their respective field really.
Crunchyroll’s future plans might split this community of enthusiasts right down the middle. The plan is to expand Crunchyroll’s offerings beyond strictly anime. Rather than just animated entertainment originating from Japan, content will be coming from all around the world and include live-action movies and shows, music from J-pop, K-pop, and Vocaloid, and Crunchyroll originals.
The idea is to diversify their famously limited catalogue to not only attract the avid fans but the casual fans of the anime genre, which might irk the gatekeepers that are an unfortunate part of every fandom.
Following Netflix’s footsteps?
You might notice that there are a few similarities going on between Crunchyroll and Netflix. The term “originals” might have tipped you off that Crunchyroll appears to be following in the footsteps of the OG streaming service. Netflix, for a long time, relied on Netflix Originals to get butts into… well, sofa seats and credit cards into payment forums. It’s brought about mixed results (anime fans will undoubtedly remember the disaster that was the live-action Death Note series) but original content in a world full of movie sequels and prequels is surely to be a refreshing change.
Then there is the comparison to games. Crunchyroll recently announced a set of RPG mobile-only games for their service. Sound familiar? Netflix released a series of mobile-only games to be played through the app in 2021, some of which are based on their Netflix Original content, like Stranger Things.
It’s a smart move to start expanding, especially with a concept that has proven itself to have potential, despite its niche nature. And surely fans will be glad to see more content options coming their way.