Netflix’s Gaming Journey: Planting Seeds for the Future

Netflix’s venture into gaming may not have made seismic waves in the industry just yet, but according to the streaming giant, this gradual approach is part of a broader strategy.

As of September 2023, Netflix has expanded its game library from 24 to 77 games in just a year, but subscriber engagement remains modest. Co-CEO Greg Peters emphasizes that this method aligns with Netflix’s history of launching new regions and genres, building a foundation for long-term entertainment value.

Netflix’s Gaming Expansion

Netflix’s gaming endeavor was announced in 2021, with a focus on offering games as standalone apps for mobile devices. The primary goal is to keep subscribers engaged between seasons of their favorite shows. High-profile talent from the gaming industry, like Mike Verdu and Joseph Staten, joined the Netflix team to help realize this vision.

Challenges of Mobile Gaming

One challenge Netflix faces is getting existing subscribers to download and play mobile games. Data from a video analytics firm reveals that over three-fourths of all streaming service subscriptions are used on television screens. This presents a marketing challenge, as Netflix primarily caters to users on larger screens, while its mobile game library is designed for smartphones.

As of September 2023, Netflix’s games have been downloaded 70.5 million times worldwide. An estimated 2.2 million users play one or more of Netflix’s games daily. While the library continues to expand monthly, daily user numbers peaked at 2.7 million in January 2023 but dipped to a low of 1.45 million in March, suggesting that less than 1% of Netflix’s 247.15 million subscribers play games daily.

Comparison with Mobile Gaming Giants

Netflix lags behind major mobile gaming publishers in terms of downloads. For instance, Playrix’s “Gardenscapes” has had 531 million downloads, King’s “Candy Crush” has reached 438 million downloads, and Supercell’s “Clash of Clans” boasts 388 million downloads.

The Shift to Multi-Device Gaming

Recognizing the challenges of mobile-only gaming, Netflix has begun testing games that can be played on any device. This beta rollout, available in Canada and the U.K., includes titles like “Oxenfree” and “Molehew’s Mining Adventure.” These games can be played on a TV screen, with players using their mobile phones as controllers.

Netflix’s Long-Term Vision

Co-CEO Greg Peters has hinted at the “multiyear period” Netflix is investing in gaming, but specific data points remain undisclosed. Recent reports indicate that Netflix plans to adapt its popular series, such as “Wednesday,” “Black Mirror,” and “Squid Game,” into mobile games. Furthermore, the company is exploring the possibility of releasing an iteration of “Grand Theft Auto” through a licensing deal.

Despite technological challenges and competition from established gaming companies, Netflix remains committed to its gaming strategy, aiming to provide subscribers with diverse entertainment options. While gaming engagement may not have reached its full potential yet, Netflix views it as a long-term endeavor to ensure sustained subscriber engagement and value.

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