Netflix will soon stream games to your phone. 3 things to know about how it will work
It's confirmed: Netflix is expanding into video games. The veteran streaming service will start with ad-free games for mobile devices with no extra cost to subscribers as early as next year. Netflix's plans to enter the gaming world won't be the first, but could be a game changer, not only for the streaming giant, but for other competing services and subscriptions as well.
There's no doubt that the streaming market is thoroughly saturated. These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find a channel that doesn't offer some type of streaming option (hello, CNN Plus). And since multiple movies and shows overlap across different services, companies are always looking for ways to set themselves apart.
A number of services have been experimenting with video game subscriptions. Last year, Amazon (creator of Prime Video) invested in Luna, a cloud gaming service and operates its own gaming studio as well. Google (owner of YouTube) launched game-streaming service Stadia in 2019. And Apple, which launched Apple TV Plus last year, also sought to expand its audience with the mobile gaming subscription service Apple Arcade in 2019. Even Zoom is getting in on gaming with poker, Heads Up and Kahoot.
We'll tell you what we know about the Netflix project -- still in its infancy -- and keep you posted as we learn more. CNET reached out to Netflix for comment and we'll update when we hear back.
What games are coming to Netflix?
Netflix hasn't announced any specific games yet, but the streaming giant hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu for the project. EA is a powerhouse game publisher that owns popular titles like The Sims, Mass Effect, FIFA 21, Madden 21 and Medal of Honor. Facebook also housed addictive titles like FarmVille and Candy Crush.
Netflix's gaming venture will start with ad-free games for mobile devices like phones and tablets, which will be available on the streaming service at no extra cost. The streaming service also said it would experiment with creating games based on existing Netflix franchises, as well as totally original standalone games that could potentially spawn spinoff movies or shows, as noted by CNET reporter Joan Solsman.
We could see Netflix start setting up deals with developers and publishers to bring popular mobile games to the platform without ads, akin to what you might get with a subscription to Apple Arcade.
When are video games coming to Netflix?
Netflix hasn't given a specific date yet, but the service plans to start adding games to its platform in 2022, according to a Bloomberg report. During a discussion on July 20 about the company's second-quarter earnings, Netflix said it's in the "early stages" of a "multiyear effort."
It's also likely that once games begin to be added, Netflix will monitor its audience's reception of games and adjust future content, as other services have done. For example, last year, Apple Arcade canceled a number of games in search of titles that would better drive subscribers.
Will Netflix only let you play mobile games?
During the July 20 meeting, Netflix executives said the service would initially focus on mobile games. But because so many devices support Netflix, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to expand to Xbox, PlayStations and computers. Verdu's experience with gaming on different hardware and service platforms will also be beneficial to the project's future.
Netflix has already dipped a toe into gaming when it released the interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style video Bandersnatch, based in the Black Mirror universe. The service also mentioned producing more interactive content like Bandersnatch back in 2019.
For more, check out 10 ways to save money on streaming and how to cut the cable TV cord in 2021.