While Netflix has been offering video games to subscribers for nearly two years now, the company has been struggling to gain visibility for this part of its business. Reports have indicated that just 1% of the service's subscribers are playing these games, but that hasn't changed Netflix's plans. On a recent earnings call, Netflix Co-CEO Greg Peters claimed that the current trend is in keeping with the company's past expansion moves, which have traditionally started slowly. While gamers have yet to embrace Netflix, the Co-CEO believes that there is still an opportunity to expand this part of the business.
"This trajectory is not dissimilar from what we've seen before," said Peters. "When we've launched a new region — or when we launched new genres, like unscripted, [we had to] crawl, walk, run, but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity to build a long-term center value of entertainment."
Netflix Video Games
One of the biggest hurdles for Netflix with video games is the current format. Netflix's games cannot be accessed on a TV screen or computer; instead, these games are basically free apps that can be downloaded directly onto a mobile device. Netflix offers more than 70 games that can be downloaded by all subscribers, with the vast majority relating to the company's streaming shows. Games based on Stranger Things, Sonic Prime, and The Queen's Gambit have been made available, but there are others as well, including existing favorites like Dead Cells and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge. The company has also started to add exclusive sequels, like the recent Slayaway Camp II: Netflix & Kill. There have also been rumors that Netflix is trying to get Take-Two to add a Grand Theft Auto to the service, though it's currently unclear what form that would take.
Subscribers cannot currently access Netflix games on TV, but the company is testing that feature in some markets. These users are able to play the games on their TV, but they still have to use a mobile device as a controller. If that feature gets rolled out to all subscribers, it's possible the company could build better awareness.
Competing With Other Gaming Services
When Netflix first announced its plans to enter the gaming industry, it seemed like the company could be a major disruptor. After all, the subscription service has major name recognition, and a huge user base. Two years in, Netflix hasn't been seen as a replacement for other game subscription services, and general knowledge of the feature is fairly low. It remains to be seen whether Netflix can turn things around, but it's clear the company has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
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