Netflix may not be a leader in the gaming category today, but the company has shown no signs of slowing down its pursuit of the booming mobile gaming market. Interpret data has shown that interest in mobile gaming has been steadily rising among the Netflix audience in the US as the streamer has promised upwards of 50 titles on its free mobile gaming service this year (it has 33 as of this writing). Not only did Netflix acquire studios like Next Games and Boss Fight Entertainment, but recently the company announced that it’s building out its internal games development capabilities with a new studio in Finland.
The Helsinki-based studio is in good hands, as it’s being helmed by former EA executive and Zynga co-founder Marko Lastikka. COO Greg Peters commented on an earnings call that the company is “very enthusiastic” about building internal capacity, but the company has also acknowledged that it has a lot of work to do to boost its gaming profile. Signing French publisher Ubisoft to a deal that includes an Assassin’s Creed exclusive could help in that regard. Netflix has also done well in curating a number of solid games from indies, including Poinpy, Into the Breach, and Before Your Eyes, to name just a few.
Members of the games media have noticed the quality of Netflix’s growing games catalog, too. “Its initial gaming launch last year with five games was uninspiring and forgettable, but this summer has dramatically recolored my perception of Netflix as a games publisher,” commented GameSpot’s Chris Pereira in August.
Additionally, while not a major feature, Netflix is beginning to recognize the importance of supporting its gaming community through the use of public usernames that can be used across all Netflix games. As is common with online services like Xbox Live, Netflix notes that having public game handles will “help players discover, make friends and play with each other.”
Building a video game empire can take many years. When Microsoft first decided to launch the Xbox, the company endured numerous growing pains as it challenged Nintendo and Sony. Netflix is at the embryonic stage of a long journey in this vibrant industry, and with all the synergy gaming is already seeing through anime and live-action shows (The Witcher, Castlevania, Arcane, etc.) on the streaming platform, the company is positioned to succeed. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, the average Netflix subscriber in the US clearly values gaming as part of their entertainment diet, spending nearly 10 hours each week on games compared to 15.5 hours on video streaming. Moreover, Netflix users spend around $45 per quarter on games or game subscriptions, which is on par with the cost for a standard Netflix plan.
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