Netflix is taking the next step in its long,
deliberate rollout of cloud-based gaming offerings, with a limited test taking their availability beyond mobile, to connected TVs and computers.
In the next few weeks, Netflix is launching a limited beta test with “a small number” of members in Canada and the U.K. on select TV brands, and on PCs and Macs through Netflix.com on supported browsers, the company announced on its blog on Monday.
The company said it wants to test its game streaming technology and controller, and improve the member experience over time.
For game-playing on TV, participating members will use their mobile phones as a controller; on PCs and Macs, they can play on Netflix.com using a keyboard and mouse.
Games on TV will initially operate on partner brands 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. Additional devices will be added on an ongoing basis, according to Netflix.
Two games will be included in this phase of the testing: “Oxenfree” and “Molehew’s Mining Adventure.”
Netflix has to date not charged members for access to its games — envisioning games as a customer retention and acquisition strategy rather than monetizing them as a separate revenue source. Even members of its new ad-supported Basic with Ads plan have access to games, although not the ability to download them.
"Our north star is to become a world-class publisher who delivers must-play games to our millions of members around the world,” Leanne Loombe, Netflix vice president of external games, told Axios in March.
The company made its first visible moves into the space in 2021, by releasing its first, “Stranger Things”-themed games, in Poland; hiring Electronic Arts and Facebook Reality Labs Mike Verdu of Electronic Arts and Facebook Reality Labs fame to lead the initiative; and making its first game studio acquisition, Night School, the California-based creators of “Oxenfree”.
In 2022, the company acquired Boss Fight Entertainment, and the Helsinki, Finland-based the Next Games studio, and announced that it was
creating its own game development studio, also based in Helsinki, and led by Marko Lastikka, co-founder and former general manager of the Zygna game development studio.
According to Sensor Tower and Udonis, Netflix games have been downloaded 44 million times since launching in November 2021, including more than 22 million in 2022.
Only a small percentage of Netflix’s now more than 238 million subscribers globally have downloaded its games. Between their launch in November 2021 and August 2022, when its subscribers totaled 221 million, fewer than 1% of subscribers had downloaded Netflix games. (The games had been downloaded 23.3 million times, for an average of 1.7 million daily users, according to Apptopia.)
Prior to 2023, Netflix had launched about 55 games, but this year, the company has said it will launch another 70 games.
Netflix has tried various ways to increase awareness of its games among subscribers, including promoting some of them by using QR codes during content that take viewers to the online area where games can be downloaded.