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Summary:

Netflix has been quietly testing a new approach towards personalized movie and TV show recommendations: The company recently launched a game show host-like personal assistant dubbed Netflix Max on the PS3 that uses gamification to get users to rate more movies and find better content.

Netflix Max, which was first spotted by The Noisecast, has been made available to some PS3 owners through the most recent update to the company’s PS3 app. We just checked and didn’t have access to Max yet, but early users have been describing it as a kind of You don’t know Jack meets Siri: Max audibly talks to viewers and prompts them to answer a number of questions to find new movies. Netflix clearly emphasises the gamification aspect, even prompting users to “play Max” in the PS3’s home menu, and turning movie rating into “The Ratings Game.”

Check out a video of the new feature recorded by Scott Daly below:

PS3 owners apparently need version 2.08 of the Netflix app to have access to Max, and it doesn’t seem to be enabled by default for every user. The Noisecast blog was told by a Netflix customer service representative that users with the 2.08 update update can easily gain access to Max even if it’s not part of their home menu by pressing the “square” button on their remote control, but we weren’t able to replicate this, despite running that very version of Netflix’s app on our PS3.

A company spokesperson told me via email that it’s not been decided whether it will be made available on other devices as well:

“Max is a new user experience we are testing. It is available to a subset of Netflix members who use a PS3. We will look at how the test performs, whether it leads to increased interaction with Netflix by our members, and decided based on that whether we will make it broadly available.”

Netflix has long worked on fine-tuning its recommendation engine, but hasn’t innovated as much on how these recommendations are served to the user. A feature like Max could be an interesting way to improve both: Users won’t have to browse through tons of recommendations, and Netflix learns even more about their preferences.

  1. I like Max. I found your article because I was surprised that not everyone had Max. Now I feel especially lucky.

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  2. I had and used Max… I don’t see it anymore. Max did ok for the most part, and even when he was dead wrong he was very fun…. I want Max back… lol
    Yes Max will ask a few rate a show/movie questions and he would pick something, if you had seen it rate it or if you did not want to see it then you skip and he would try again…. he pick a few movie/ shows for me some better than others. I have to say I liked Max and hope they keep it/him around!!! :-)

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