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The first Netflix games are live, but probably not for you

Netflix’s foray into gaming has begun. Slowly. And only in Poland.

The world’s largest streaming service has announced that it’s spun up two games — Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3 — and that you’ll be able to play without ads, without in-app purchases, and with everything included in your current Netflix membership.

But the vast majority of Netflix’s nearly 213 million paid subscribers don’t have access just yet, as the games have only launched in Poland. (And firing up a VPN instance in Warsaw didn’t make the games magically appear for us here in the United States.)

Netflix's "Stranger Things" games on mobile.
The first mobile games from Netflix are here, with two titles set in the Stranger Things world. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The initial rollout was discussed on Netflix’s Twitter accounts. “Today, members in Poland can try Netflix mobile gaming on Android with two games, Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3,” the company wrote. “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.”

We’ve known for a couple months that Netflix was headed in this direction, courtsey of a brief mention in the company’s second-quarter 2021 earnings note. In the letter to shareholders, Netflix said:”We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV.” It announced then that the games would be included in subscriptions, and that it would focus on the mobile space at first.

The experiment into gaming is an interesting one, and in a lot of ways it makes sense. Netflix has a growing stable of original content on which it can piggyback. While not everything lends itself to the traditional gaming experience (The Crown or Bridgerton, anyone?), you could easily imagine expanded gaming experiences built around titles like Sweet Tooth, Warrior Nun, or even the underrated animated series Pacific Rim: The Black. (We wouldn’t hold out for a Netflix mobile gaming version of The Witcher, though, due to the obvious collision with the existing PC and console games.)

As for when we can expect Netflix’s gaming experiment to make its way out of the heart of Europe, that’s anyone’s guess. Stay tuned.

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Phil Nickinson
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