August 16, 2023
Netflix continues to expand its game ecosystem. The company released a TV game controller for iOS devices earlier this month and has just begun beta testing its game streaming on TVs in Canada and the UK, with plans to begin tests for computer play in the coming weeks. Participating in the tests are partner devices including 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, with plans for more manufacturers to be added on an ongoing basis.
“Notably missing” from the initial partner list “is Apple TV, which has a TV-based gaming strategy of its own via apps from its App Store,” TechCrunch points out, noting that Macs as well as PCs will be included in the upcoming computer tests, which will take place “through Netflix.com via supported browsers,” allowing people to play using their keyboard and mouse.
The first two games in the beta test are “Oxenfree,” from Netflix-owned Night School Studio, and “Molehew’s Mining Adventure,” a gem-mining arcade game. “To play our games on TV, we’re introducing a controller that we already have in our hands most of the day — our phones,” Netflix Games VP Mike Verdu writes in an announcement touting “games on more devices.”
Netflix “first launched its mobile gaming offerings as a free perk for subscribers in November 2021” and “so far, the company’s titles have only been available on iOS and Android,” The Verge contextualizes, noting that “by bringing games to TVs and web browsers over cloud streaming, subscribers will potentially be able to play Netflix’s titles in a lot more places, and it also means that Netflix could begin to compete for gaming time on TVs and PCs” with industry leaders.
“Netflix, however, doesn’t see itself as competing in the same space as PlayStation or Xbox, Verdu explained at the time,” TechCrunch notes, quoting him saying that “it’s a completely different business model. The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are.”
Last fall, Verdu announced Netflix was opening a Southern California game studio led by Chacko Sonny, veteran of Blizzard and Sony. VGC News in May detailed further staffing and plans for “an original IP, AAA” title, reinforcing what Ars Technica calls “big ambitions for games.”
Netflix’s game streaming test, though small, is “poised to be a big deal,” Ars Technica suggests, noting it could potentially “succeed beyond the limited impact Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass has made.”