We all used the term “the Netflix of gaming” before. Whether it was in reference to some future utopian service where every game could be streamed flawlessly to any device no matter where we were or in reference to services like Google Stadia, which tried, and ultimately failed, to make that service a reality. Life imitates art, as they say, and now Netflix has launched its own gaming service. As the original king of TV and movie streaming, Netflix is turning its attention toward the gaming crowd with a brand new service.
Netflix has been slowly inching toward gaming. Outside of producing its own shows based on hit gaming franchises, like The Witcher and Castlevania, there were rumblings of the streaming juggernaut tackling games proper for quite a while. As of November, they have finally started to roll out this new service, but gamers and Netflix subscribers alike are both reasonably confused as to what exactly this service is. If you’re a Netflix subscriber or are curious about becoming one and want to know all the details about what Netflix gaming really is, here’s everything we know.
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If you haven’t been paying close attention, the announcement of a Netflix gaming service might seem like it came out of nowhere. In reality, however, Netflix has been teasing and ramping up to this service for years. Way back in 2019, the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, made a statement claiming that Fortnite was a bigger threat to Netflix than HBO. Since 2019, plenty more streaming services have popped up to put even more pressure on the streaming service, so branching out into games appeared to get more focus.
The company published several mobile titles, such as Stranger Things 3: The Game, as well as new IP and even experimented with simple choose-your-own-adventure-style content on Netflix that only required a remote. It took Minecraft: Story Mode and integrated it on the service proper, plus made 14 interactive specials for Netflix, the most popular being 2018’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
In 2021, Netflix hired Mike Verdue, formerly of Facebook’s Oculus division and Senior Vice President at EA, to be its new Vice President of Game Development. It also made their first proper game studio acquisition. Night School Studio, developer of the cult hit Oxenfree and Afterparty, made sense for the service since its games are mostly narrative and choice-based. Between stand-alone mobile games and interactive experiences on its main service, the direction Netflix would go with gaming was murky at best.
Finally, in November, Netflix finally made its intentions clear. Its new Netflix games service launched, albeit with minimal content and ways to play.
So, how does Netflix gaming work exactly? First off, this service, at least for now, is included in your normal Netflix subscription. There’s no additional fee, separate subscription, or even adds or microtransactions in any game on the service to date.
The only hurdle you need to overcome in order to start gaming, so long as you have Netflix, of course, is the fact that it is currently only supported on Android devices. If you don’t have either an Android phone or tablet, you won’t be able to take advantage of Netflix gaming. You cannot connect a controller to your TV or play them in any way on PC, either. When you enter the Netflix app on your Android phone or tablet, you will see a row dedicated to games. Once you select a game, you are able to download and play it. Netflix does note that some games will require you to be connected to the internet to play, while others can be played offline anywhere.
It is possible that more devices will be supported in the future, but there’s no official mention of those plans as of now.
The launch lineup of games for Netflix gaming is rather small and unimpressive. The service is launching with just five titles, all of which are mobile games. The full library includes:
- Stranger Things: 1984
- Stranger Things 3: The Game
- Shooting Hoops
- Card Blast
- Teeter Up
Naturally, this library will grow over time, but Netflix hasn’t announced any kind of cadence for new games coming to the service. It has expressed interest in publishing games based on its IPs, so we can expect more licensed or tie-in games to its original programs at some point. Hopefully, that comes in the form of something other than more Stranger Things games, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
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