It’s been a rough 2022 for Netflix so far. The streaming giant has had to deal with a number of unexpected issues in recent months – and based on new data from its gaming division, things are likely not to get better anytime soon.
According to Apptopia, an app analytics company, less than one percent of Netflix’s global fan base is currently playing one or more of its games (for CNBC (opens in new tab)). Presented in much more blunt terms, only 1.7 million subscribers have played a video game on Netflix since its gaming section officially launched in November 2021.
Netflix could be driven by the fact that 23.3 million people have downloaded at least one of their game titles in the last nine months – a number that represents more than 10% of their subscriber base. However, once fans have installed the game on their devices, very few are actually picking it up and playing it.
So what gives? Why is Netflix struggling to convince you and many others to actually play their games? Unsurprisingly, there are several reasons behind Netflix’s inability to persuade its subscribers to try out its selection of video games.
The first – and perhaps the most obvious – reason has to do with where Netflix games are available. According to Streamer’s own help site (opens in new tab), users can only play their game titles on compatible mobile devices. This means you can only download and play on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (running iOS 15 or later) as well as an Android phone or tablet (running Android 8.0 or later).
The problem with Netflix is that the vast majority of its subscribers use the streamer app on their TV. According to data obtained by online finance (opens in new tab), 70% of Netflix’s user base streams their content through their television sets. Compare that to just 10% of users who stream the best movies on netflix and best series on netflix through your cell phone, and it’s obvious why Netflix is struggling to get people to play its games. Simply put: they are not available where most subscribers access Netflix content.
Also, Netflix’s gaming division simply doesn’t have the back catalog to attract — and more importantly, retain — users who try out its basic selection of titles. There are currently 26 titles available on Netflix Games, but while some of them are fun to play, none of these games can be defined as “must-have”.
Of course, there are some highlights among this number. Stranger Things 1984 and its sister title Stranger Things 3: The Game are tie-ins games to the popular Netflix TV series, which should get a fifth and final season sometime in 2024. Meanwhile, Into the Breach is a fantastic turn-based strategy game, and Poinpy is one of those classic mobile games that will devour your spare time.
Unfortunately for Netflix though, it can’t deliver the same exciting AAA titles that Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and other game developers can deliver on Switch, Xbox Series, PlayStation 5 and game streaming services like Amazon Luna. At the moment, Netflix simply cannot compete with the established elite.
Of course, he has ambitious plans to do so. Netflix wants to double the number of games in its library by the end of 2022 (for The Washington Post (opens in new tab)), which will include titles based on its original programming, such as The Queen’s Gambit and shadow and bone. It also acquired three studios to begin its expansion into the gaming sector, as well as hiring key industry figures such as former Riot Games director Leanne Loombe and EA executive Mike Vrdu to lead its gaming division.
No blockbuster titles in its selection – which are still years away as Netflix discovers what users want from its gaming platform (for Variety (opens in new tab)) – however, Netflix cannot stand up to the biggest game developers and publishing studios in the world.
And then there’s competition from mobile game companies and non-gaming corporations.
Per IGN (opens in new tab), Take-Two-owned mobile gaming studio Zynga helped its parent company’s mobile gaming business grow 41% year-over-year in Q2 2022. Zynga is the owner of the Farmville series, in addition to from other popular titles, including Star Wars: Hunters. Add Niantic’s competition and its runaway success pokemon go game, robloxand more, and Netflix has its work cut out in the mobile gaming space.
That’s before you consider ridiculously popular social media apps like TikTok too. Netflix isn’t just competing with other game studios and publishers for people’s precious time — it’s also taking on non-game companies in an effort to grab viewers’ attention.
Netflix may have suffered some substantial subscriber losses in recent months, but it can still boast a worldwide subscriber base of 221 million. Still, that’s nothing compared to TikTok, which revealed over 1 billion people were using TikTok every month as of September 2021 (opens in new tab). According to DemandSage (opens in new tab), that number has increased to 1.39 billion in January 2022. In an era where short-form content has become the destination of one-seventh of the world’s population, Netflix’s gaming division isn’t even close to competing with those numbers. . Given that Netflix Games is positioned as the first division of mobile, there are plenty of other ways for smartphone users to have fun before they even consider playing a game on the Netflix app.
Of course, this is not game over for Netflix Games. The streaming giant will continue to forge ahead in this industry, slowly building a portfolio of titles worth playing and gradually increasing its player subscriber base. Companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo were not overnight successes, and Netflix Games certainly has the potential to grow even more. The arrival of its ad-supported subscription – a level where Netflix could actively promote its in-house gaming content – could help its effort to get its games in front of more people, too.
Still, this is an inauspicious start for Netflix Games. He has a subscriber base ready to exploit, and even with variables currently working against him, the streaming company should have been able to attract more than one percent of their fanbase to try out their selection of games. Time will tell if this proves to be a slow start to an eventual cash spin or, like many other recent Netflix projects and productions, Netflix Games will be shelved before they even have a chance to load.
For more Netflix-based coverage, check out all the new Netflix movies in 2022. Alternatively, read the best Netflix documentaries available to stream.