Netflix, the world’s leading streaming service, is taking its gaming ambitions to the next level. The company announced on Monday that it is testing video games on select TVs and computers, in addition to its existing mobile games. This is a significant move for Netflix, as it aims to provide more value and entertainment to its subscribers, and compete with other gaming platforms.
How Netflix Games Work
According to a blog post by Mike Verdu, Netflix’s vice president of game development, the company is conducting a “limited beta test” of its cloud-streamed games in Canada and the UK. The test will initially include two games: Oxenfree, a supernatural adventure game from Night School Studio, which Netflix acquired last year; and Molehew’s Mining Adventure, a gem-mining arcade game. Both games are rated for ages 12 and up.
To play the games on TV, users will need to use their smartphones as controllers. On Android devices, the controller will be accessible through the Netflix app, while on iOS devices, users will need to download a separate controller app. On computers, users will be able to play the games on the Netflix website using a mouse and keyboard.
The games will appear alongside the current content on Netflix as a new genre, similar to how the company added documentaries or stand-up specials. Netflix said that it does not plan to charge extra for the games, and that they will be included in the existing subscription plans.
The company also said that it will add more devices and regions to the test “on an ongoing basis”. Some of the TVs and connected TV devices that will support Netflix games for now are:
Amazon Fire TV streaming media players
Chromecast with Google TV
Nvidia Shield TV
Roku devices and TVs
Samsung Smart TVs
Why Netflix Is Getting Into Gaming
Netflix has been exploring the gaming space for a while, starting with interactive titles like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and a Carmen Sandiego game. In July 2021, the company hired Verdu, a former executive at Electronic Arts and Facebook, to lead its gaming efforts. In November 2021, the company launched its first mobile games based on its popular original series, such as Stranger Things and The Witcher.
Netflix’s gaming strategy is different from other cloud gaming services, such as Google Stadia or Amazon Luna, which charge users separately for access to their libraries of games. Netflix views gaming as a “value add” for its subscribers, similar to how Microsoft offers Xbox Game Pass as a perk for its console and PC users.
Netflix’s main goal is to keep its subscribers engaged and loyal, especially in more saturated markets like the US. The company also wants to leverage its intellectual property and create more opportunities for cross-media franchises. For example, Netflix is working with Ubisoft on an Assassin’s Creed live-action series and a video game based on the same property.
Netflix’s gaming venture is still in its early stages, and it remains to be seen how well it will perform in terms of quality and popularity. However, given Netflix’s track record in disrupting the entertainment industry, it is likely that the company will continue to invest and innovate in this space.
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