There’s been considerable hype around Netflix’s decision to enter the games business since the company first revealed its intentions over the summer, and rightfully so – when the world’s leading streaming service leverages its 214 million subscriber base and goes after a complementary entertainment vertical, people are going to stand up and take notice. In the intervening months, Netflix has already made its first studio acquisition, picking up Oxenfree developer Night School Studio, and now we’re seeing the first fruits of the company’s investment in games. Five mobile titles were released for Android devices, with iOS support “on the way.”
The newly released games, which are free to download for Netflix subscribers, include Stranger Things: 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Shooting Hoops, Card Blast, and Teeter Up. Netflix recently teased the next season of Stranger Things, coming some time in 2022, so the games based on the IP are well timed to drive renewed interest in the IP. The other games are tap-based casual fare, which is not a huge surprise given that former Zynga executive Mike Verdu is running the games side for Netflix.
Netflix’s approach to the games space so far has been measured. The company explained to Business Insider that it’s “getting into games step by step,” which has also been evident directly from its games-related content on the streaming service, including Castlevania, The Witcher, Arcane, and interactive fare like Bandersnatch. Netflix told its investors recently that it sees gaming as “another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation, and unscripted TV.” Rushing into any new category too quickly is not a recipe for success, but by taking smaller steps, Netflix can see what resonates and iterate.
The company has previously mentioned a “long-term strategy and vision for cloud games on Netflix,” but should it ever decide to take on cloud giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, it’ll have to considerably increase its investment in games content. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of adoption Netflix’s mobile games see, as the subscriber base is less inclined to play on mobile devices, according to Interpret’s New Media Measure®. Whereas two-thirds of Apple TV+ subscribers report playing mobile games, just 55% of Netflix subscribers play on mobile.