According to reports, Netflix is exploring the expansion of its gaming offerings, which have so far been centred around mobile games. The streaming service is considering adding more sophisticated titles to its subscription library and has engaged in discussions regarding licensing a Grand Theft Auto game as part of this strategic move.
In November 2021, the streaming company made its initial foray into the gaming arena by launching five iOS and Android games that were available to download and play as part of a Netflix subscription. Since then, its gaming library has expanded to include more than 70 titles. Additionally, Netflix has made several noteworthy acquisitions, including the developer of Triple Town and Cozy Grove, Spry Fox, as well as the creators behind The Walking Dead mobile games, Next Games, and the studio responsible for Oxenfree, Night School Studio.
Signs of Netflix’s more ambitious gaming endeavours became evident in November when the company unveiled its establishment of a new studio in Los Angeles. The former Overwatch executive producer Chacko Sonny led this studio in the development of a brand-new triple-A, third-person RPG for PC. Moreover, a recent report from the Wall Street Journal has offered further insight into Netflix’s plans, revealing that the company is actively expanding its presence in the high-end gaming arena, concentrating on games that users can stream and play on TVs or PCs.
Reports indicate that Netflix has discussed the potential release of a game from Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series through a licensing agreement as part of its expanding gaming initiatives. However, the Wall Street Journal did not provide any information about the specific title Netflix may have been considering, nor did it offer any insights into whether these discussions have resulted in a final agreement.
According to the report, Netflix sees a stronger gaming presence as a means to draw in new subscribers and keep existing ones engaged during the intervals between seasons of their beloved shows. This strategic move also offers a rationale, though perhaps a cynical one, for potential subscription price increases. While it’s a strategy that appears to be yielding positive results, the progress is gradual.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, data from app tracker Apptopia reveals that Netflix game downloads have surged from 30.4 million to 70.5 million over the past year. However, the statistics indicate that fewer than 1 per cent of Netflix’s 238 million subscribers are actively playing these games daily. A more pressing concern is the current process, which requires users to download mobile games from their device’s app store, leading to a substantial drop in user engagement. The Wall Street Journal highlights that only half of the subscribers who click the ‘Get Game’ button within the Netflix app proceed to download and play the games.
The company is currently testing game streaming to enhance the accessibility of games through its platform. This technology is currently in a trial phase and is accessible to a limited number of subscribers in Canada and the UK. During this trial, two games, Night School Studio’s Oxenfree and the “gem-mining arcade game” Molehew’s Mining Adventure, are available for television streaming.
Netflix’s game streaming technology is currently in testing alongside its recently introduced Game Controller app. This app allows users to play games on a TV or computer. According to The Wall Street Journal, there were concerns among some Netflix executives that the use of a virtual controller might impose limitations on the types of games the company could provide. For instance, action-packed games may require a traditional controller for a more optimal experience. Despite these concerns, Netflix decided to pursue the mobile phone approach for its game controller.
As per the report, the shadow of Google’s unsuccessful Stadia project has been a significant point of discussion in internal meetings at Netflix. Some employees have raised questions about why the company is venturing further into a market where a major player like Google has faced difficulties. Notably, Google’s Stadia made a high-profile entrance in 2019 but ultimately decided to discontinue the service in January of this year due to challenges in gaining user adoption.