At its core, Squid Game serves as a critique of capitalism; nevertheless, Netflix continues to explore avenues for financial gain. Following the renewal of the series for a second season and the launch of a reality show based on its premise, Netflix has introduced a pop-up experience in Los Angeles. Here, enthusiasts can pay to engage in games inspired by the show, savor Korean snacks, and possibly acquire costumes.
By purchasing general admission tickets, which start at $39, participants agree to become contestants in a sequence of six games crafted by Netflix, drawing inspiration from the show’s perilous challenges. These challenges range from a glass bridge, where players must memorize illuminated tiles, to a rendition of ‘Gganbu,’ requiring contestants to seize all their opponent’s marbles for victory. Rather than facing fatal consequences, losing contestants receive a buzzing bracelet, allowing them to progress through all six games.
Throughout the immersive experience, players vie against each other for the coveted title of winner. In a quirky twist, Netflix promises that guests completing all six challenges within the 70-minute timeframe will receive priority consideration for casting in the reality TV spin-off, recently greenlit for a second season. Presently exclusive to Los Angeles, this limited-time experience will run through the new year, with Netflix hinting at the eventual expansion of ‘Squid Game: The Trials’ to another city.
In the development of this in-person pop-up space, Netflix collaborated with Samsung, a prominent Korean company. Notably, during the Red Light, Green Light game, the Galaxy S23 Ultra strategically placed in the gaming area captures pivotal moments through Hyperlapse video and still images. Various Samsung TVs and Galaxy mobile devices are strategically positioned throughout individual games, and participants navigate through “experiential zones” enveloped by Samsung TV screens, including the flagship Neo QLED 8K, the 4K, and The Frame.
Upon completing the games, general admission provides access to a ‘Korean Night Market,’ offering opportunities to purchase street food and soju-infused cocktails. Additionally, participants can acquire the signature green tracksuit worn by contestants (potentially a Halloween costume for the following year, should Squid Game costumes remain popular). The experience also includes arcade-style and mini-games inspired by the show, available for participants to enjoy.
On a broader scale, Netflix is actively striving to transcend its role as a streaming-only platform and has been exploring ventures into diverse categories beyond its core service. This includes an expansion into the gaming realm, encompassing virtual reality (VR), the introduction of brick-and-mortar branded retail stores, and even venturing into the dining space in the coming year. Netflix appears resolute in its pursuit of monetizing goods and experiences inspired by its extensive media library.
The Squid Game immersive live experience represents Netflix’s latest foray into pop-up events, and it’s not the streaming giant’s inaugural attempt at such ventures. Prior to this, Netflix experimented with the pop-up format with other popular shows like Stranger Things and Bridgerton. In these instances, fans were invited to don ball gowns and vie for the Queen’s attention in a quest for the coveted title of the ‘season’s diamond.’ This strategic diversification underscores Netflix’s commitment to engaging audiences through innovative and immersive encounters, extending beyond the conventional streaming model.