Netflix is now incorporating games into its massive content catalog. It’s a massive power move, and it’s a far cry from other services who are exclusively focused on acquiring IP. It’s a fresh approach for Netflix to keep consumers interested in the service, and gaming could be the key to maintaining its streaming domination.
Netflix has been experimenting with gaming for a while, but the announcement this week of a global launch of games within the Netflix app marks a big shift in the streamer’s strategy for getting such games to its consumers. (Last week, the games were released for Android smartphones, and this week, they were released for iOS and iPad.) Netflix’s games will now be available to users in the same way as movies, TV series, and originals are, and they’ll be able to be launched directly from the app after being downloaded from the App or Play stores.
Netflix executives have stated repeatedly that their service competes with anything from sleep to social media apps to video games — in other words, everything other than viewing Netflix. Netflix is currently competing with more streaming and content-serving services than it has ever been — not just the HBO Maxes, YouTubes, and Hulus of the streaming world, but also apps like Instagram and TikTok. By introducing extra points of entry to its content — in this case, games that build upon and expand the worlds of its existing titles — it may be able to prevent people from turning to these other services or applications for enjoyment.
According to Richard Broughton, a research director at Ampere Analysis, the firm’s recent study on Netflix consumption exemplifies this ambition. Ampere polls around 50,000 people in various markets around the world every six months to see how they use various apps and services. According to Broughton, Ampere has found not only stagnation but a slight erosion of subscribers in the 18- to 24-year-old category in the last two of waves of research.
“In other words, folks in that age bracket who would have previously taken up Netflix are departing and becoming interested in other services that are coming on board, whether it’s the new studio-backed services in the US or possibly social video services — TikTok, for example,” Broughton adds.
Netflix is essentially using games to provide value and amusement to its service, which might help it compete with competing services that would otherwise eat into a subscriber’s media consumption time, especially among younger users.
“I believe it’s part of the cliche that ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,” says Broughton. “Netflix has long claimed that gaming is one of the big competitors of the moment.”
Netflix has stated that it wants to create games “for each level of play and any type of player, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gamer.” Netflix is positioned to become a powerful presence in the subscription gaming industry, according to Broughton, because the business has stated that its games will be offered only through the service with “no commercials, no additional costs, and no in-app purchases.”
“You could argue, from one perspective, that Netflix is seeking to steal a piece of the market with some of the new, developing subscription gaming platforms,” adds Broughton. “Its offering still appears to be extremely distinct because it is so mobile-centric, as opposed to many of these platforms, which focus on Triple-A titles.” Nonetheless, it gives the organization a footing in the market and allows it to explore. And I believe that as time goes on, we’ll see bigger and better games.”
Netflix’s global launch on Android, on the other hand, had only five games accessible at launch, indicating that the company is still a long way from becoming a serious gaming competitor, according to Argus Research analyst Joseph Bonner. While games make Netflix more “sticky,” according to Bonner, it will be some time before we realize how games are actually impacting the service in any meaningful way. While Bonner believes it is a good business plan, he notes that “this is a very little part of the pie” in the grand picture of Netflix’s current operation.
Netflix may be starting small with games, but it has stated that it intends to “start building a library of games that offers something for everyone.” And Netflix has made it plain that games are more important to it than simply snatching up whatever IP scraps are being snatched up by other providers. Netflix may also experiment with more advanced gameplay in the future, according to Broughton.
Nonetheless, Broughton believes that Netflix’s inclusion of games within the app is “very crucial” for mass uptake. It reduces the entry hurdle and makes it easier for Netflix to entice potential gamers who may otherwise overlook its offerings. And if Netflix wants to become even more addictive than it already is, games could be the way to go.
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