Netflix has confirmed that it's entering the gaming business — and it will start by offering free mobile games to subscribers.
Rumors had been rife that the streaming giant was poised to move into gaming, and it finally revealed the first details around its plans in its Q2 earnings report (opens in new tab). While not giving everything away, Netflix announced that it will focus on mobile gaming to start with, a move that will see it go head-to-head with Apple and Google, among others.
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In the report, Netflix said that it was "in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg, Black Mirror Bandersnatch) and our Stranger Things games."
"We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV, “ the report continued. “Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series.”
The fact that Netflix is starting out with mobile titles, and that it specifically referenced the Stranger Things game, gives us some idea of what we can expect. In a presentation on the report (opens in new tab), Netflix COO Greg Peters added that its vast bank of original content will provide a fertile ground for games.
“We are in the business of making these amazing worlds and great storylines and incredible characters, and we know the fans of those stories want to go deeper, they want to engage further,” Peters said.
Peters also stated that the games will be ad-free and would not contain in-app purchases — a move that will no doubt delight many mobile gamers.
"We also feel that our subscription model yields some opportunities to focus on a set of game experiences currently underserved by the dominant monetization models in games," Peters said. "We don't have to think about ads, we don't have to think about in-game purchases or other monetization, we don't have to think about other per-title purchases."
While mobile games will be Netflix's initial focus, Peters also revealed that console games could arrive in the future, stating that "Ultimately, we see all of the devices that we currently serve as candidates for some kind of game experience." Given that the Netflix app is available on everything from the PS5 and Xbox Series X to a multitude of TVs and the best streaming devices, that leaves plenty of room for expansion.
According to previous reports, Netflix has hired former Oculus and EA executive Mike Verdu to oversee its gaming division, but otherwise info had been thin on the ground until now.
We still don't know when the first games will arrive, but a recent Bloomberg report suggested that it could be within the next year.
Nor is it entirely clear how Netflix will distribute these games. Bloomberg’s (opens in new tab) initial report claimed they would be available in the Netflix app alongside its existing portfolio of movies and TV shows, but there's no detail yet about whether games will be streamed or downloaded from an app store.
There’s still much that Netflix needs to clarify, then, but we aren’t likely to get any answers for a while yet. So instead, sit tight and enjoy the best Netflix shows and TV series already available.