Netflix recently made headlines by stating their intention to extend their services into the video gaming market. Aided by the arrival of former Electronic Arts executive Mike Verdu, who joins Netflix as the Vice President of Game Development, the first steps into Netflix games are expected in late 2021/early 2022. While this move illustrates the first attempt from any major video streaming platform to enter the gaming arena, there are many questions about how this plan could play out. First targeting mobile devices, Netflix games face an uphill battle, one which raises concerns about hardware and subscription services.
A Saturated Market
While we don’t yet know the specifics of how Netflix’s gaming system will be implemented, we do know that mobiles are the first targeted platform. This makes sense from an infrastructural standpoint, as mobile systems are already one of the most ubiquitous and well-performing gaming platforms today. Already approaching $100 billion in value a year, mobile gaming revenue has led it to become the most promising system for simple and low-cost gaming productions.
This popularity doesn’t just occur within video games either, as demonstrated by the success of avenues like casino free spins no deposit services. With a wide range of different casinos operating in this realm offering thousands of games, bonuses, and special features, there already exists a website for practically everyone. Just as playable and streamlined on mobiles as they are on PC, this market is immense and, like the existing mobile games market, this could prove an issue for Netflix.
Gaming on mobile, though still comparatively young, is already saturated to a significant degree. Once the success of early mobile hits like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga became undeniable, a flood of new and existing developers entered what was then an untapped market. Over time, this evolved into a marketplace filled with games of all genres, from full-priced ports of console and PC games to new cheap or even free offerings. If Netflix wants to carve out its place in this market, they have an uphill battle ahead of them, and it remains to be seen what additional value their system could offer.
Implications for Hardware
Though the move into mobile gaming is the only one Netflix has directly noted so far, it’s likely to be the first step of many. After all, as much as we rely on mobiles, Netflix’s home is on smart TVs first and foremost. This raises a concern, however, in that smart TVs tend not to have anything approaching the hardware power of mobile phones. Even if they did, controlling games via a slow infrared remote is never going to be a user-friendly experience.
There is a possible solution to this with game streaming services like Microsoft’s xCloud and Google’s Stadia. Though these come with limitations tied to latency and bandwidth, such streaming systems bypass performance concerns, and can also be tied into mobile platforms. To get the most out of a service like this, Netflix would require users to, at the very least, own a controller system, which would likely need to be paired with a hardware device for the greatest effect. As for how Netflix could manage the economic aspect of this reality, that remains to be seen.
Does Netflix Need Gaming to Succeed?
As of Q1 2021, Netflix is by far the dominant provider in the online streaming service arena, accounting for just over 50% of all video streaming customers. Though this proportion is immense, it should also be noted that, just two years prior, Netflix accounted for 64.6% of streaming subscribers. Over time, other systems like Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+ have all offered competitive services, and slowly the market is levelling out.
While there’s no indication that Netflix will die out due to a lack of support, they can no longer rely on their early momentum as a saving grace. With this in mind, their move into video games makes a lot more sense. This is something that no other service offers yet, and with the right approach, it could give them another advantage among the pack.
As for whether their adoption of gaming systems will succeed, that much is still in question. Even if Netflix gaming proves popular, their move will inevitably be followed by others who learn from the mistakes and successes that Netflix lays out. Really, Netflix gaming could be another attempt to stay ahead of the competition, but there’s no telling if this attempt will pay off, nor for how long.