Update Nov. 12, 2021: Recent reports say Netflix has officially rolled out mobile games for its Android and iOS users on Nov. 2 and Nov. 10, respectively. These mobile games are the same as, or similar to, the Stranger Things titles the streaming company had released back in August 2021 for Poland-based Android users to try.
To access the Stranger Things games on your Android or iOS device, click on the new Games tab on your Netflix app. However, it might take some time before Netflix completely rolls out this update to all users, reports say.
Now here’s a story that combines our love for video content and mobile gaming — Netflix plans to integrate mobile games into their streaming platform. For now, however, they’re testing to see the effectiveness of this approach on Poland-based Android users.
“It’s very, very early days and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the months ahead, but this is the first step,” the account Netflix Geeked (@netflixgeeked) said in a tweet, quoting Netflix Polska (@NetflixPL).
So far, this first step has rolled out two pixelated games — Stranger Things 1984 and Stranger Things 3. Netflix subscribers in Poland can click on either game icon within the mobile application to access the game.
However, several reports say the app will redirect users to the Google Play Store first so they could download the games. Then, they’ll be able to launch the games on the Netflix mobile app or their mobile device. Alternatively, you can directly go to the app store to download the games.
Both of these games have been available elsewhere before Netflix decided to add them to their mobile platform, an article in TechRadar says. Stranger Things 3: The Game (2019) cost about $10; however, it’s recently been removed from Steam, TheGamer reports. But with a Netflix subscription, you can play these titles for free.
Why Does Netflix Want to Include Mobile Games into their Streaming Service?
Movies, TV Series, and…Gaming?
Netflix isn’t going into this blindly, though. In the past, the popular streaming platform has played with the idea of integrating interactivity into their brand of entertainment. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018), The Last Kids on Earth: Happy Apocalypse to You (2021), and Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal (2020) are only a few of the prime examples of Netflix dipping its toes into the world of gamified viewing.
Netflix claims that, as it is an entertainment company, it regards other types of entertainment media as competition. According to CNET, it even sees Fortnite and YouTube as its rivals in trying to get their target audience’s attention.
This kind of outlook can allow the movie and TV streaming platform to expand and dabble into other related services. But one notable field Netflix considers its competition is gaming, as it tends to get longer viewing times than movies and TV series.
Reuters reported that in a letter to shareholders, Netflix said they “view gaming as another new content category.” They added this development is “similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV.”
Drop in Subscriptions
However, another reason for this new strategy could be the number of subscriptions Netflix has been gaining recently, which apparently is not a lot. The company’s US revenue share from subscription-based video streaming is likely to go down to 30.8%, eMarketer says according to Reuters. In 2018, the streaming company’s share was at 50%.
The move to make mobile gaming an incentive for subscribing to Netflix could help them regain momentum. While many mobile games are free and more accessible, Netflix’s edge is continued storytelling via playable characters and interactive tie-in content.
But will subscribers enjoy the new type of entertainment Netflix might offer in the future? What’s the likelihood of Netflix rolling out more tie-in games? And how will introducing mobile games to the same streaming platform help them with their goals of expansion?
Could Mobile Games Be the Saving Grace of Netflix?
This year, the Financial Times (FT) reported Netflix had lost 430,000 subscribers during the second quarter in Canada and the US. In the same report, FT notes the increase in competition could be taking some of the potential customers away, as well as the fact that lockdown restrictions have been easing.
So, is having mobile games on the Netflix app a good solution? According to the FT report, Netflix co-chief executive officer Reed Hastings said mobile games are merely complementary to the company’s core business. “We’re a one-product company with a bunch of supporting elements,” he said.
This might sound conflicting with Netflix saying they view “gaming as a new category.” But perhaps what they meant is rather than putting a large percentage of their efforts into this new category, they plan to invest in it insofar as it helps support their primary service.
Mobile Games Can Bolster Netflix’s Growth
Having games on the Netflix mobile app is certainly interesting. And it is possible for their subscription rate to grow because of this. Aside from the additional storytelling and engagement it provides, mobile gaming as a field has received a ton of attention since the pandemic hit.
According to a recent report, mobile gaming will sustain over 70% of pandemic-motivated gameplay in the next two years. Mobile games are a common source of entertainment today simply because they allow users to pass the time or socialize.
So if a streaming platform like Netflix would want their customers to stay on their app longer, it stands to reason that having mobile games, albeit not AAA, in there is a viable solution.
Through their testing phase in Poland, the company will be able to see whether this approach is engaging to their current customer base. But more importantly, it can tell them whether it’s helpful in driving enough interest and attracting new subscribers.
What are your thoughts on this change? Do you think adding mobile games to the Netflix platform is a good idea?
In Poland, Netflix has recently deployed two mobile games — Stranger Things 1984 and Stranger Things 3 — on its Android app. Netflix considers gaming as a potentially new category they could explore. This echoes their decision in the past to branch out to original film production and animation.
However, some reports say the company behind the streaming service could be testing this new feature out to see whether it will help boost their subscription growth.
To access the titles, Poland-based Android users must subscribe to Netflix. They could then download the mobile games from their Netflix app or directly on the Google Play Store.
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Note: This article was originally published in September 2021 and updated in November 2021.