HBO steps into free-to-play mobile games with 'Insecure'

After Netflix dipped its toes in the water, other streaming services are following suit.

Promotional Material for 'The Come Up Game'
Warner Media

When Netflix unveiled a series of free-to-play mobile games on its service, the cynic in me couldn’t help but ask why. Sure I get that there is a mountain of original content with which to leverage a video game out of, but will that really attract any users?

HBO certainly doesn’t mirror these thoughts. In an announcement today, the face of prestige television revealed a partnership with Glow Up Games, an all-women-of-color-founded game studio, to launch a mobile game based on the hit series Insecure.

The game in question is free-to-play, of course, and is called The Come Up Game. Rather than existing within HBO’s streaming interface, interested parties will instead need to download the game through Apple’s App Store. A version of The Come Up Game is available now, with content and feature updates scheduled throughout 2022.

Follows the source material— A number of characters from Insecure will be your guide as “you move to Issa’s apartment complex, meet the crew, and get a front-row seat to all the drama.” The gameplay will also involve a rap-based mini-game, as users craft rhymes to battle friends and enemies alike.

The game lets you customize a character in the same vein as Issa Rae’s titular characters, Issa Dee and Molly Carter. As mentioned earlier, the rap mini-game is the focus of the actual playing experience but you can unlock cosmetics, own an apartment, and gain access to “exclusive product drops.” From the sounds of it, there will probably be in-app purchases for customization. Music for the game was composed by SΔMMUS and also includes selections from Isaa Rae’s RAEDIO, which could be curated selections from her Spotify playlist.

HBO’s approach to gaming diverges from Netflix in that it requires people to play games outside the confines of its platform. Whereas Netflix seems to use mobile gaming as a way to keep users on its service. These two services are probably only the first two dominos to fall, as streaming giants seek to expand the reach of their content. Only time will tell if it lasts.