Netflix is moving full steam ahead with its mobile gaming ambitions despite low subscriber engagement in the small library of titles released so far.
The streaming giant has revealed plans to launch its own in-house game studio in a bid to lessen reliance on third-party developers. Based in Finland, the as-yet-unnamed studio will be led by former EA and Zynga executive Marko Lastikka, and will join Next Games and Night School Studio on the streamer’s already-owned developer roster.
“This is another step in our vision to build a world-class game studio that will bring a variety of delicious and deeply engaging original games – with no ads and no in-app purchases – to our hundreds of millions of members worldwide. ” Netflix Vice President of Game Studios Amir Rahimi said in a declaration (opens in new tab) announcing the news.
This is a big – albeit surprising – statement of intent from Netflix, whose 2022 was fraught with unwelcome developments related to declining subscriber numbers and the resulting need to cancel a slew of high-profile film and TV projects.
The streamer’s new gaming division hasn’t stopped the wave of bad news either. Data emerged in August, revealing that less than one percent of Netflix’s global fan base is currently playing one or more of its games. In clearer terms, this means that only 1.7 million subscribers have played a video game on Netflix since its gaming section officially launched in November 2021.
Playing the long game
So why is Netflix doubling down on games, of all things, when it should be in cost-cutting mode? The answer, we think, remains the same as the reason Netflix started its entire gaming venture: simply as another way to entertain – and, crucially, retain – subscribers who are already invested in the brand’s ecosystem.
Of course, less than one percent of subscribers reproduced a Netflix game, but 23.3 million downloaded at least one title in the last nine months – suggesting consumers are ready and willing to engage with the streamer’s gaming content What if the titles themselves are considered worthy of being played.
Netflix’s library of 26 games needs to be beefed up with a slew of must-have titles to make more subscribers take notice of its existence, and the launch of an in-house studio is sure to help Netflix do just that.
Additionally, this Helsinki-based Netflix developer will be the first to be built by the company from the ground up, suggesting it will have an improved ability to focus on Netflix-branded content specifically (paving the way for new titles rooted in IPs). popular like Strangers Things, Squid Game and more of the best Netflix series).
Another factor in the slow progress of Netflix’s games division is timing. Those working in the industry know how long it takes to create a game worth playing, and Netflix’s superiors seem to recognize that fact as well.
“It’s still early days and we have a lot more work to do to deliver a great gaming experience on Netflix,” said Rahimi, an executive at Netflix, in his aforementioned statement. “Creating a game can take years, so I’m proud to see how we’re building the foundation of our game studios in our first year, and I look forward to sharing what we’ve produced in the years to come.”
In other words, it’s too early to say that Netflix’s games have failed – and with the launch of an ad-supported subscription tier on the streamer’s horizon, Netflix may once again have the expendable finances it needs to have. success in this unknown industry.