Roll on the lockdowns; Netflix has outlined plans to include gaming in its streaming service. The OG streaming service remains the world’s most popular, with 183 million subscribers worldwide.
However, with the recent launch of Disney+ and Amazon Prime fast approaching the same number of paid customers, the service is under pressure to offer something more.
Consumers are starting to realise that they’re paying for a lot of different subscription services and looking to cut back.
Netflix said on Tuesday in its second-quarter shareholders’ letter that the “time is right to learn more about how our members value games.”
Rather than try to license existing games from the big publishers, for whom rights and exclusivity is a big part of their operations, Netflix will look to develop new, original games. Games will be included in existing subscription offerings, rather than as an additional add on.
Last week, Netflix hired former Facebook and Electronic Arts exec Mike Verdu to bolster its move into gaming. He becomes their first-ever VP of Game Development.
They also hired N’Jeri Eaton, previously the head of content for Apple Podcasts, as Netflix’s first head of podcasts, a sign that Netflix is looking to become our go-to hub for all of our entertainment.
While the letter said Netflix is still in the “early stages of further expanding into games,” its initial offerings will be “primarily focused on games for mobile devices”.
That mean’s we shouldn’t expect to see Super Mario or Call of Duty on Netflix any time soon. The company has already dipped its toe in the water in this area with 2019’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. That ‘choose your own adventure’-style approach could be a more natural fit for Netflix.
Netflix has previously said that they don’t view other subscription services as competitors, but instead are worried about losing their audience to games like Fortnite.
Their January 2019 shareholder letter said, “There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences.
“Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose.”
The upcoming gaming library is therefore intended to be a marketing hook for those who are not yet on the subscription service, not a standalone reason to subscribe by itself.
A job listing for a Director of Product Innovation, Interactive at Netflix writes that the goal of Netflix gaming is to “enhance and deepen member engagement”.
However, making video games is hard and it typically takes years to build a solid game. Netflix has no experience in this area and critics are already slating the idea.
“I do think they will try, and do think they will fail,” Wedbush managing director Michael Pachter told Business Insider.
“They don’t have a team, they’re not capable of making games, and the idea that they think they’re gonna launch games next year is crazy. There’s no chance they get anything made in the next year”.