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Netflix Establishes Internal Games Studio, Continuing Investment in Mobile Games

David Satin

Netflix is continuing to gamble with mobile games. Defying numbers suggesting that less than 1% of customers engage with the service’s mobile games — despite being free to subscribers — Netflix is moving ahead with plans to create an internal video game studio.

The studio will be headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and will be headed by studio director Marko Lastikka. The streaming service will build this studio from the ground up alongside fellow Helsinki-based studio Next Games studio, which Netflix purchased last year. Combined with the streaming giant’s other two studios — Night School Studio and Boss Fight Entertainment — these four studios will each focus on different areas of gaming and will develop games that are designed to appeal to the different tastes of Netflix members.

“This is another step in our vision to build a world-class games studio that will bring a variety of delightful and deeply engaging original games — with no ads and no in-app purchases — to our hundreds of millions of members around the world,” Amir Rahimi, Netflix’s VP of game studios, wrote in a blog post announcing the studio’s launch.

This move is the latest update in Netflix’s efforts to get its mobile games up and running. The streaming platform has not been afraid to try new things to get people playing its games, including adding a first-person shooter earlier this year. Netflix wants to bring its total games library to more than 50 by the end of this year, and has been using games from established IPs to help boost the profile of those games.

Netflix is also willing to go beyond IPs it owns to develop new games. The company announced a deal with video game giant Ubisoft to develop games for Netflix, including a game based on the popular “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. But the establishment of an in-house gaming studio will allow Netflix to develop games without having to share revenues or get into messy distribution rights agreements.

Netflix is using tactics beyond expanding its library to bring more users to its games. The company added gamer handles and more social components to its games, in order to bring the experience of playing Netflix games more in-line with the console gaming experience they’re accustomed to.

Although it has struggled to gain traction with its games so far, Netflix’s continued investment in video games could put it on the forefront of the next streaming wave once again. If cloud gaming becomes the next wave of streaming as some have suggested, Netflix could be in the perfect position to transition to games quickly, just as it transitioned from a DVD rental service to a streaming platform.

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