Back in November, Netflix finally launched its in-app gaming platform for Android and iOS.
But while a number of titles have been added periodically in the following months, there hasn’t seemed to have been much buzz on Netflix Games as a whole. Part of that, Netflix now admits, is due to its own relative silence on its gaming efforts.
“We started in November of last year, so only a handful of months and we’re still intentionally keeping things a little bit quiet because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what things are going to actually resonate with our members, what games people want to play,” said Leanne Loombe, Netflix’s head of external games, during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 13th. “So it’s really important that we have some time to build up to that.”
According to Loombe, the past several months have effectively been an experimental period for Netflix Games, with the streamer “trying out different ways of discoverability” during this time. As an example of this, she mentioned that Netflix opted for a dedicated ‘Games’ tab on Android, while games simply show up in a row on the home page of the iOS app.
She also noted that this is easier to do at the moment because Netflix Games are a bonus perk of a subscription — no added fee required. “It’s still very, very new, but one of the things we want to do is make sure that games are a really valuable part of our members’ subscription. So there are no ads, there are no additional costs,” she said. “Every single game is free with your subscription and there’s no monetization, which is a really great thing for developers from a creative perspective. They get to really focus on making great games and not having to worry about creating games that just drive revenue and money.”
Having Netflix Games on mobile is also part of a larger goal to reach a wide amount of people.
“We want to make sure there is a game on Netflix for every single one of our members, whether that’s someone that plays games every single day or someone that’s brand new to games or wants to try something like Netflix out,” Loombe said. “A very accessible, broad-appealing game, something that people can start to play easily. And starting with mobile is a really great way for us to ensure that we can get games into people’s hands easily and remove some of that friction that might exist in other platforms.”
The key question, though, is how many people have actually been playing these games. Netflix is notorious for its lack of transparency regarding the performance of its original content, and it’s been even less forthcoming about its success — or lack thereof — with Netflix Games.
Loombe didn’t provide any such clarification at Tribeca, although she did say that Netflix is still working all of that out when it comes to games.
“We’re still figuring out what does a great game look like on Netflix? What does that performance look like? What does success look like? And we can start using that data to then sort of massage our strategies into next year — really figure out what our members want from our games and how we can support and develop this even more to make those kinds of great games.”
Going forward, Netflix says it aims to double its mobile games offering by the end of 2022. That, plus Netflix’s comments at Tribeca, seems to indicate a long-term commitment to games. However, Netflix’s broader business has been declining, with the streamer recently reporting its first-ever quarterly subscriber loss — 200,000 — while anticipating a further drop of two million in Q2 2022. Amid that, the company has laid off employees while restructuring its content film and TV plans. Therefore, it remains to be seen how much Netflix will invest in to gaming.
It should be noted, though, that one element of Netflix’s gaming strategy that we’ve seen expand recently is the idea of increased synergy between its games and original movies and shows. Since the launch of Netflix Games, there have only been two titles based on its originals: Stranger Thing: 1984 and Stranger Thing 3: The Game. Last week, however, the streamer announced that four of its shows — The Queen’s Gambit, La Casa De Papel, Shadow and Bone and Too Hot To Handle — are each getting their own game.
On a broader level, Netflix is also actively involved in the gaming space with a slew of originals based on popular games, including The Cuphead Show!, Arcane (League of Legends), Sonic Prime, multiple Resident Evil titles and BioWare Edmonton’s Dragon Age. It’s unclear whether Netflix will also release its own games based on the properties.
In other Netflix gaming-related news, Toronto-based Snowman recently announced that its next title, Lucky Luna, is coming to Netflix’s gaming platform.