nobody plays netflixGames. Well, no, that’s not true – 1% of Netflix subscribers are. But that means over 200 million people have access to, say, one of the best strategy games out there… and probably don’t even know it.
For more casual gamers interested in less intensive and more comfortable affairs, there are the likes of poinpy, Krispee Streetand Knitwear. If you are crazy about stranger things and have hummed Running Up That Hill and Master of Puppets since the punch of those musical finales, you’ll probably find people like Stranger Things 3: the game and Stranger Things: 1984 both are worth your time.
But chances are you don’t even know these games are available as part of your subscription fee. Until I started writing this article, I didn’t even realize how hard it was to access games on different platforms – Netflix hasn’t really been forthcoming in promoting them to its customer base. still huge, right? To complicate matters, you can’t play the games through the app, but instead have to head to the mobile store for your platform of choice (iOS or Android) and download the games from there. Anything viable with your Netflix subscription will be denoted by the brand’s red N logo and listed via a dedicated in-app tab on the home screen. Clicking on it – or finding a relevant game in the storefront of your choice – will prompt you to connect to Netflix, and from there you can play the game. For free.
It’s not exactly a hardship, but it’s definitely a few more steps than necessary to watch the latest show or movie. So it’s perhaps no wonder that 99% of Netflix users haven’t even bothered to get a game through their sub. But that 1% – let me tell you, they live the good life. They get to work for free thanks to Moonlighter, a truly amazing indie roguelite-cum-shop management sim! They can kiss the tarmac in Asphalt Xtreme. They must save the earth, again and again, in Into the Breach. I’m telling you, if you’ve ever played Exploding Kittens in real life with your friends, you need to check out the Netflix games list – there’s something for everyone.
Taken alone, the actual download numbers and viewership metrics for Netflix don’t seem so bad: a CNBC report suggests the games have been downloaded some 23 million times worldwide, by an average of around 1, 7 million users. There are independent publishers and platforms that would probably kill for this kind of commitment. But, overall, these are peanuts for Netflix: those numbers represent just 1% of the company’s 221 million subscribers.
Things are only going to get better for gamers with Netflix subscriptions: there are currently 24 – mostly excellent – games on the service. By the end of the year, that number will more than double to 50, according to plans outlined by the platform. If even two or three of them are of equal or better quality than what we’re already seeing in Netflix’s burgeoning catalog, it’s easy to get them on your mobile devices and start playing. But will Netflix bother to continue making deals with publishers and developers if no one benefits?
It hasn’t even been a year since Netflix entered this market. As our friends at GamesIndustry.biz note, 1% of Netflix subscribers downloading games is “not a bad start.” I’m just afraid that with such low reach, the games arm of the company – which has recently had well-documented subscriber retention and redundancy issues – decides it’s not worth it and shuts down early. It won’t be a disaster of Ouya proportions, but it would certainly sting for those of us in the UK paying £15.99 a month for the 4k tier subscription to drop (easily) £100 worth of games without even knowing it.
Netflix has never been at the forefront of marketing, nor overdone in showing off its products (says Craig Chapple, Sensor Tower’s Mobile Information Strategist for EMEA, in the linked GI.biz article) . But, with games in particular, it’s really starting to bite the platform. As for the future, it’s hard to see what Netflix wants: we know the studio acquired developer Oxenfree Night School Studio in 2021, then took over mobile developer Next Games and Boss Fight Entertainment in March 2022. The TV and movie side of things also continues its gaming craze (just look at all the The Witcher, Arcane, and Castlevania content already in place, not to mention the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 and Tekken shows).
Clearly Netflix has a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to integrating with the gaming world – I just pray that more people heed this call and start downloading mobile games with their Netflix IDs so that we can all enjoy this well-processed, superb supply of iOS and Android games for years to come.
You can check out the full list of games available on Netflix here.