It is impossible to deny how lucrative the gaming industry is for so many companies. Even before the pandemic, gaming was growing and expanding thanks to the success of mobile games, Nintendo’s Switch, the PlayStation 4, and the PC market. During the pandemic though, things escalated quickly and games as a form of entertainment and social interaction took on an increased level of importance. Now we have major acquisitions being made, the Embracer group buying every studio they can, and major companies like Netflix wanting a piece of the action by developing their own studios.
You may not know this, but if you have a Netflix account, you already have access to several games you can play on your mobile device. Accessing them just requires looking for the “games” section when you load up the Netflix app, and installing them by going through the prompts that follow. If you’re only watching Netflix through your television though, you may not have even realized this was something you could do. While their selection isn’t exactly great, they do have “Into the Breach,” “Moonlighter,” and “Oxenfree,” all of which are damn good titles.
The problem for Netflix though, is that these games aren’t exclusive. All three of those titles are available elsewhere on console and PC. What Netflix has been wanting to do is try to get their own series of games going, which is why they’ve acquired studios like Next Games and Boss Fight Entertainment. The streaming platform wants to take the next step forward though by creating their own internal gaming studio. To that end, they’ve hired Marko Lastikka to do so. Lastikka previously worked for EA and mobile gaming giant, Zynga.
One of the things that Netflix touts about their games is the lack of ads and in-app purchases; something they want you to know so much that they put it right on their website. Much to their credit, the lack of microtransactions is a big deal given how lucrative they can be and how heavily other publishers and developers are reliant on them for increased profit. Case in point, Blizzard’s “Diablo Immortal” was earning a million dollars a day shortly after its launch despite major gaming outlets complaining about how bad the microtransactions are. Netflix eschewing this business model is actually a big deal for those who want to enjoy games that are legitimately free with their streaming subscription.
We’ve discussed the struggles Netflix has had this year amidst the battles with Disney+ and HBO Max. Netflix needs to do something to set itself apart, and gaming is certainly one way to do it. Is it an effective way though? That’s really hard to say. Going to Netflix for gaming is kind of like going to Subway for cookies. Yeah, you can get them there, but you can also just buy them somewhere else and find a greater variety too. Gaming may be lucrative if you’re successful, but many have failed to get to that “successful” state, and it may not be easy at all for Netflix to get there. We’ll see what they come up with as they continue to build up internally and announce whatever titles they have planned.