Amazon dunking on Netflix's password rules takes us back to PlayStation vs Xbox One

An Amazon Prime Video login screen, where every profile name spells out sentence "anyone who has our password"
(Image credit: Amazon / Twitter)

Netflix rivals are having a field day in the wake of the streaming service’s password crackdown – with Amazon Prime Video coming hard for Netflix on Twitter.

The Twitter account for Prime Video UK replied to an old 2017 post by Netflix that said “Love is sharing a password” – replying with a screenshot of Prime Video user profiles that spell out “Who’s watching? Everyone who has our password”.

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At the time of writing, the post is nearing half a million likes after just half a day online, echoing some of the discontent subscribers are feeling at seeing their selflessly-shared passwords now monetized.

That specific Netflix tweet is getting a lot of attention these days, as proof of a very different approach to password sharing back in 2017, when the streamer actively encouraged password sharing as a way to spread interest in the platform. Those truly were the days – though competing sites like Prime Video still maintain more of a free-for-all approach.

Brands dunking on each other in public is nothing new, of course, but it’s always fun to see transnational corporations behaving like snarky teenagers. There’s a long tradition of shade being thrown at competitors in ads, like the old ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ skits that Apple used to put out.

But this specifically reminds us of 2013, and PlayStation's response to Xbox’s ill-received E3 conference that introduced a complicated game-sharing system and restrictions on buying or selling used games. Alongside a breathtakingly high price point, and talk of an always-online ecosystem, Xbox created an open goal for its competitor that the company has yet to recover from a decade later.

Sony responded with the brilliantly sassy and low-budget “Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video”, which demonstrated in 22 seconds (including graphics at the start and end) how PS4 users would share video games.

The PlayStation video is a lesson is how effective, and memorable, a single piece of snarky marketing (snarketing?) can be. However, while Microsoft eventually backtracked on its Xbox One policy, Netflix seems confident that even angry subscribers will come back into the fold eventually.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.