Nearly two years after it launched its gaming platform, Netflix is finally getting a taste of what it is like to be a full-fledged game publisher. Welcome to the video games industry, Netflix.
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According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the streaming giant is considering adding in-app purchases, charging a premium for some games, or integrating ads in games for its new Netflix ad-supported tier. The ideas haven’t been formalized yet and are just suggestions on how to make more money on Netflix Games, so these changes may or may not happen in the future.
As of now, Netflix offers a total of 86 games for free to anyone who subscribes to its highest tier. The service was formed on the basis of incentivising subscribers by offering high-quality gaming experiences that do not feature any advertisement, in-app purchases, or cost extra, but it seems that this model isn’t proving to be as lucrative as the company might have thought.
According to Sensor Tower (via GamesIndustry.biz), Netflix mobile titles have been downloaded 13 million times globally as of June 2023. According to Sensor Tower’s mobile insights strategist for EMEA, Craig Chapple, it is not a “bad start” for Netflix, noting that they are “right at the start of its mobile games strategy”. Since then, Netflix Games has added some prominent first-party and third-party releases, notably its internally developed Oxenfree 2 and Rockstar Games’ GTA Trilogy, but it is unclear if these games have made any significant impact on the company’s offering.
Despite the falling business model, Netflix Games remains committed to the platform. It currently has 90 games in development, has already courted famous developers like former Halo boss Joseph Staten, and is in the process of building an entire new games studio. Their upcoming games include the likes of Cozy Grove: Camp Spirit, Sonic Mania Plus, Hades, Game Dev Tycoon, and yet-unnamed games on its Rebel Moon and Squid Game IPs.
Besides monetising their games, Netflix is also looking at other ways to expand its user base. A code discovered within the Netflix app (via Bloomberg) indicated that the company plans to run games on TVs using smartphones as controllers. It is also exploring cloud gaming, according to a job listing for a Rendering Engineer, which requires a specialist who can “render multiple games on our cloud gaming appliances” and “enable game developers to succeed in writing high-quality games for the Netflix cloud games ecosystem.”
Mufaddal Fakhruddin has been writing about games and technology for the past 15 years. He has lost count as to how many reviews he has written over the years, but he is sure headphone reviews make up at least 70% of that.