Netflix is “seriously” considering launching a cloud gaming platform, the company has confirmed.
Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, Mike Verdu, Netflix’s VP of game development, said the company is “very seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering” as an extension to its existing Netflix Games platform on mobile.
He added that the company would “approach this the same way we did with mobile, which is start small, be humble, be thoughtful, and then build out.” Currently, Netflix Games offers a few dozen mobile titles at no additional cost to Netflix subscribers.
According to Verdu, embracing the cloud will “meet members where they are on the devices where they consume Netflix.” Indeed, part of Netflix’s success boils down to its ubiquity, with all sorts of mobile devices, smart TVs and gaming platforms supporting the service. He added that these wouldn’t just be casual games, either, which is mostly what Netflix Games has been thus far.
However, Verdu declined to mention whether Netflix would produce its own controller for the platform, like Google did for its soon-to-be-shuttered Stadia cloud gaming service. Instead, he simply said TV remotes wouldn’t be the sole method of play. Given the widespread usage of controllers from the likes of PlayStation and Xbox, including with Apple TV, it’s possible that Netflix could simply opt to partner with existing companies.
Of course, it’s important to stress that this is all hypothetical, with Netflix not actually confirming concrete plans. On top of that, it’s not clear when the company would even release such a platform. As Verdu noted, Netflix’s approach to gaming has been measured, only offering a handful of mobile-exclusive titles since the platform launched nearly a year ago.
Along the way, it’s been gradually investing more into first-party studios, such as by acquiring Oxenfree developer Night School or opening up a brand-new office in Finland. That said, Netflix acknowledged that “it’s still early days” and “creating a game can take years,” setting expectations for when we might see more from these teams.
It’s also unclear how many people have actually been using Netflix Games. According to an August report from app analytics firm Apptopia, fewer than one percent of overall Netflix subscribers are using the gaming platform. Netflix — a company already notorious for obfuscating data on how well its content performs — hasn’t provided any official data on Netflix Games’ performance. In an October 18th letter to investors, the company simply said “We’re seeing some encouraging signs of gameplay leading to higher retention” while confirming that at least 55 games are coming to Netflix in the future.
And although Stadia never took off, cloud gaming as a whole is certainly on the rise. Newzoo, a reputable analytics firm, published a report earlier this month detailing how the games industry is set to generate approximately $2.4 billion USD (about $3.3 billion CAD) in cloud revenue this year. That works out to a 74 percent increase year-over-year, and roughly 31.7 million consumers paying for cloud gaming.
Other companies have already dipped their feet into the game streaming market. Following beta testing in 2019, Microsoft has been expanding its Xbox Cloud Gaming service (included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) to devices like mobile and smart TVs, while PlayStation offers the ability to stream a variety of games on console. Amazon also has its own streaming platform, Luna, although it’s only available in the U.S.
In related news, Netflix recently pulled back the curtain on its lower cost, ad-supported tier, which is launching in Canada on November 1st.