For a long time, Netflix has stood as the one and only video streaming service. But in 2021, the panorama is a little bit different. The market is currently scattered between several options such as Disney+, Paramount+, and Apple TV, and while Netflix is still one of the top players in the scene, if not the biggest one, they’re definitely not as strong as they used to be, and their market share is dropping quickly. So logically, they want to branch out. And one market they’ve been eyeing for some time is the gaming market.
In a letter to investors (via: The Verge), Netflix formally announced that they were going to expand into gaming, with mobile games as their first spot.
When we say that Netflix has been eyeing the gaming market for some time, it’s because they’ve flirted with gaming a couple of times in the past. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an example of that: an “interactive” show that can be streamed like any other show, but you make choices and decide how the story pans out, similar to something like Beyond: Two Souls. There’s also a couple of games based on Netflix’s Stranger Things show, with the first game getting a release on Android and iOS and a second game getting a release on the Nintendo Switch. Those two games, though, were developed by BonusXP, Inc, rather than Netflix.
Actual games developed in-house, however, are something that Netflix has not tried yet, but in a statement provided in Netflix’s latest letter to investors, they might be dipping their toes there too.
We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg, Black Mirror Bandersnatch) and our Stranger Things games. We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV. Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices. We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.
This doesn’t mean anything conclusive or doesn’t give any clues as to when we’ll start seeing the first Netflix games. But this news does come a few days after it was reported that they were hiring former EA and Oculus executive Mike Verdu, who joined Netflix as VP of game development. So, with actual gaming people in tow, we’re definitely expecting to see something a little bit better than just new interactive shows. What’s more: these games will be provided with your existing Netflix subscription and come at no added cost to the user.
Actual games developed in-house by Netflix will be definitely interesting to see once they do come out.