It used to be that Netflix limited itself to DVDs. Even back when that business was at its height, Netflix’s brief plan to rent game discs as well fizzled out back in 2012 after the Qwikster debacle. Netflix’s plans to get into gaming, though, got a bit of a renaissance. Now, Netflix Games has gone live in several parts of Europe.
The rollout continues! Today members in Spain and Italy will see Netflix Games available on their Android phones. We’re still in the early stages of our gaming experience, however here’s a snapshot of what’s new… pic.twitter.com/LHaQJmCBvn— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) September 28, 2021
Spain and Italy now have access to Netflix Games, and some reports add Poland to the list. Though Poland previously had access to two games, it will now have access to the titles that were made available in Spain and Italy as well.
Currently, Netflix Games is not exactly extensive. The latest additions include titles like “Card Blast,” “Shooting Hoops,” and “Teeter Up.” This set joins “Stranger Things 1984” and “Stranger Things 3” in the lineup.
Playing games via Netflix is fairly simple, though perhaps not quite as simple as we’d like or as it should be. Right now, those who want to play games in the Netflix app won’t actually do that at all. Rather, they’ll go to the “Games” tab in the Netflix app itself. From there, those who want to play games will be routed to the Google Play Store, where they can download and install the game in question. They’ll then be required to use their Netflix credentials to log into the game in question.
The games will not only be completely free to play, but also, they will be without ad support or the like. That’s an unusual departure, but Netflix seems focused on using its gaming systems as value-adds rather than as a new revenue stream. Reports suggest that Netflix is mainly using these early steps as a way to “explore what gaming looks like on Netflix.” That opens a lot of potential doors down the line, but only down the line.
However, this could be exactly what Netflix needs to cement its future going forward in a world where it has less and less access to catalog titles. As studios pull their content to instead put it on their own platforms, like Peacock or Paramount Plus, Netflix will need to rely much more on its own content. What better way to get test audiences for said content than to release games? Take the most popular of those games and convert them into movies and / or series, and you’ve got a ready pipeline of content all set to be produced. Meanwhile, you’ve also got a tool to keep the Netflix churn down even farther than it is already.
Netflix can use video games as a way to hold on to subscribers by offering extra value, or it can use video games as a way to add on an extra tier of subscribers. That move probably won’t help the churn rates much—it might actually increase churn a bit over the minimal levels Netflix sees now—but it would likely add fresh revenue, which Netflix will need if it’s going to generate new scripted content around video game properties.
It’s often been said that video game movies have a curse to them. They just don’t perform well because they seldom live up to gamers’ expectations, and gamers are the primary target for such movies. With improved movies coming out like the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie and even “Detective Pikachu” to a certain extent, that curse isn’t as reliable as it once was. Netflix may be looking to break it for good.