Netflix has initiated the first public tests of its cloud-streamed games. Starting Monday, a select group of subscribers in Canada and the UK will have the opportunity to experience Netflix games streamed directly to specific TVs, connected TV devices, and via the web on Netflix.com. This move is seen as a pivotal moment for the company's gaming aspirations.
From Mobile to TV and Web
Previously, Netflix's gaming titles were only accessible on iOS and Android platforms. The introduction of games to TVs and web browsers through cloud streaming not only provides subscribers with more options to play but also positions Netflix to potentially compete for gaming time on TVs and PCs.
Available Games and Controls
The initial games available for this test phase include “Oxenfree” from Night School Studio, now owned by Netflix, and “Molehew's Mining Adventure,” described as a gem-mining arcade game. For TV gameplay, users will utilize their smartphones as controllers. Android users can access the controller through the Netflix app, while iOS users will need a separate controller app. For web-based games, players will use a mouse and keyboard.
Games on TV will be available on a range of devices, including Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Players, Chromecast with Google TV, LG TVs, Nvidia Shield TV, Roku devices and TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, and Walmart ONN. Netflix's VP of Games, Mike Verdu, assures that more devices will be incorporated continuously. Here is a list of the connected TV platforms that will be compatible to begin with:
- Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Players
- Chromecast with Google TV
- LG TVs
- Nvidia Shield TV
- Roku devices and TVs
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Walmart ONN
A Step Forward in Gaming
According to Mike Verdu, VP of Games at Netflix, the company has been dedicated to enhancing the gaming experience for its members since the introduction of mobile games to Netflix in 2021. He stated, “Our goal has always been to have a game for everyone, and we are working hard to meet members where they are with an accessible, smooth, and ubiquitous service.” This beta test is aimed at evaluating their game streaming technology and controller to refine the user experience over time. While Netflix acknowledges that they are in the early stages of their gaming journey, they are enthusiastic about the potential joy games can bring to their members and are eager to gather feedback from beta testers.
Netflix's cautious approach to expanding its gaming services contrasts with other companies' ventures into the cloud gaming domain. The company's primary focus remains on enhancing the member experience and ensuring that games are easily accessible across various devices.
Throughout the year, Netflix has faced challenges with subscriber retention and revenue generation due to increasing competition. In a bid to diversify its revenue streams, the company has considered introducing ads through a partnership with Microsoft.
New Gaming Studio in Finland
Netflix is further solidifying its commitment to gaming with the establishment of a new game studio in Helsinki, Finland. The yet-to-be-named studio will be spearheaded by Marko Lastikka, a veteran in the gaming industry with experience at EA, Digital Chocolate, and Zynga. This move follows Netflix's acquisition of Next Games, another Helsinki-based studio. Netflix's overarching gaming vision is to “build a world-class games studio that will bring a variety of delightful and deeply engaging original games…to our hundreds of millions of members around the world.”
Expansion and Acquisitions
In addition to Next Games, Netflix has acquired other studios such as Boss Fight Entertainment and Night School Studio. While these aren't major names in the gaming industry, it suggests that Netflix is leaning more towards social gaming rather than hardcore console/PC gaming. Despite the potential for partnerships with cloud gaming giants like Microsoft, Netflix seems to be focusing on casual gaming for its platform, a strategy that has been evident since the launch of Netflix Games in 2021 as a mobile gaming division.
Upcoming Titles and Expansions
Netflix continues to expand its gaming catalog on Android and iOS. Monument Valley and its sequel are set to debut on Netflix in 2024, complete with all DLCs. Additionally, 40 games are scheduled for release this year, with another 70 in the pipeline. Among these is “Mighty Quest: Rogue Palace,” an Ubisoft title, and an exclusive game in collaboration with Super Evil Megacorp. Another anticipated game, “Terra Nil,” a reverse city-builder, is set to launch on March 28.