Pause 'The Last of Us,' PS3. Netflix has suggestions game

Netflix rolls out a gamelike interface called Max -- the "child of Siri and HAL 9000" -- to recommend movies and shows.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

Thought you were excited about "Grand Theft Auto V," PS3 users?

Netflix on Friday is introducing PlayStation 3 users Friday to Max, an interface that recommends movies and television shows based on past viewing and a quick game-like interaction. Netflix gave demos of the feature at the E3 conference earlier this month.

Max, which the online video company somewhat troublingly calls the "child of Siri and HAL 9000," asks a few questions about the user's mood and tastes to bring up a suggestion, which is also based on the same algorithms that Netflix has always relied on to recommend content.

Sometimes, the features will ask one simple question personalized to the user -- "Monkeys or UFOs?" -- to generate a suggestion, and other times it'll proffer a "mystery" recommendation that will start streaming automatically once a user clicks on a wrapped gift-box icon.

The PS3 is the most popular way Netflix users funnel the site's content onto a TV. The company will expand Max to other devices, first to the iPad, if usage and key metrics on the PS3 -- do members stream? do they stay subscribers? -- warrant it.

Netflix says Max is simply a more conversational way to get members to stream. While it has a "ratings game," in which a subscriber can pick a genre and then assign a star-ranking to a few titles, Netflix spokesman said the program isn't meant as a play to get more user ratings engagement.

The feature should be available to almost all Netflix members in the U.S. who use a PS3 by the end of day Friday.