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Netflix is stepping up its gaming service – and learning from competitors in the process

In a block of fresh drops from TechCrunch Disrupt 2022 Netflix’s VP of games, Mike Verdu said Netflix is “seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering.”

What’s more intriguing is the attention Netflix Gaming is paying to strategic acquisitions. They’re learning from the models and offerings of other competitors in the space. A recent example is the pending closure of Google Stadia and the experience of Amazon Gaming (Prime and Luna).

All this while committing to settling in for the long haul in an approach to reach gamers where they exist beyond TV without hammering them for cash at every turn.

The situation:

In a discussion with TechCrunch audiences at the event, Verdu announced the opening of a new gaming studio in southern California. The new addition was punctuated by the notion that the emerging games provider is also leaning heavily into cloud gaming.

Of course, this begs the question: but what about the others? Those including Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, which saw lukewarm uptake in the gaming market post-launch. Neither one of them are small players with waning cashflow. Verdu acknowledged what each had done right, and believes Netflix can overcome similar challenges by focusing on the business model rather than just cutting-edge technology.

Google Stadia
Google Stadia is scheduled to wind down operations completely in 2023. Image by Google

Netflix has a “start small, be humble, be thoughtful” mindset and a multi-year commitment to doing things right by gamers. With this, the company believes that Netflix games are poised to succeed beyond TV/Film and enter into the PC and personal device gaming space. Their intention isn’t to to go toe-to-toe with console platforms, which is likely another smart move.

The details:

“We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement. It’s a completely different business model. The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are,” says Verdu.

The newly announced studio in Southern California is the fifth dedicated studio in Netflix’s growing game development and publishing network. The four other acquisitions Include two in Helsinki, Finland, one in Texas, and one in California. The growing team boasts gamedev leadership from Zynga, Disney Interactive, Telltale Games, Blizzard, and more with the new studio run by former Overwatch producer, Chacko Sonny.

Netflix currently has 14 games in development, 35 currently available and 55 “in-flight.” Many of the games are seemingly tangential to Netflix show offerings (Stranger Things, etc ) and the studio has a goal to ultimately reach a split of content that is 50% Netflix origin or IP.

You might recall that earlier this year Netflix caught shade for ‘only’ 1% uptake in its gaming portfolio.

Well, Netflix has more than 220M subscribers – that’s over 2.2M gamers. That math has value, friends, and it’s growing. Netflix made nearly $8B in Q3 this year alone.

What I find most intriguing about Netflix’s gaming platform, and likely the business model distinction that they hope will close the gap that other competitors struggle with is the commitment to keeping all its games offerings under the existing Netflix subscription. This means no in-game purchases or advertising and making it explicitly not a stand-alone paid service.

Netflix gaming mobile
Image by Netflix

Verdu has also drawn a direct correlation between gaming and user retention on Netflix’s streaming platform, which seems to be supported after the company dipped in subscribers between April and June this year and then exceeded expectations with increased revenue in Q3.

What it means for gamers:

In my opinion, anything that offers new accessible and cost-effective ways for audiences to get into gaming on their own terms is an industry win.

In Verdu’s own words, “We’re very seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering so that we can reach members on TVs and on PCs. We’re going to approach this the same way we did with mobile, which is start small, be humble, be thoughtful, and then build out. But it is a step we think we should take to meet members where they are on the devices where they consume Netflix.”

Here are some quick facts that prospective gamers can get excited about:

  1. You gain all access with your regular Netflix subscription
  2. Mobile games are cross-platform between Android and iOS devices
  3. Vast multi-language support – games are available in all languages Netflix supports on the streaming platform
  4. Parental controls put them in control of any content they want (or don’t want) their kids to experience through kid profiles on the platform
  5. Offline play is available for many titles on the platform for travel-friendliness or where WiFi is unreliable
  6. Vast cover of genres and game styles for “every kind of player”

All this without any hint of monetization, stating that the service will be intended as a ‘value added’ component for existing members.

If you want to see what’s on the menu at Netflix Gaming, you can find a complete list of games here. Let us know what you think, and if you’ve tried Netflix’s gaming offerings or intend to in the near future!

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Brad

Brad is a lifelong gamer, 12 year veteran of the gaming and esports marketing industry and owner/founder of TwinsticksAndTies.com where his passion for the business of gaming takes form. As a writer, Twitch and Instagram influencer and industry professional, Brad has produced bylines and content work for Walmart Gaming, SQUAD and Northern Arena to name a few.
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