Netflix branches into mobile gaming

Will Netflix Games breathe new life into the streaming platform, or is it a gimmick doomed to fall flat?

Editorial Team
9th December 2021
(Image credit: Netflix)
Netflix is branching into mobile gaming and a lot of outlets are sceptical. Since the introduction of similar streaming services, like Disney + and Amazon Prime, Netflix’s growth has been threatened by these established competitors they are sharing the market with.

The service’s launch last month introduced five games to Android and Apple players; those using both systems can enjoy Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3: The Game (which tie in with the successful Netflix Original series of the same name) along with Shooting Hoops, Teeter (Up) and Card Blast (less related to Netflix’s current content offerings).

When you open up the Netflix mobile app, you’ll now see that there’s a ‘games’ tab which will allow you to access their games - however note that they’ll then open in a separate app. The games are included in Netflix users' existing £5.99 monthly price.

The platform already has a lot of critics. When Black Mirror's Bandersnatch dropped onto Netflix a lot of - watchers? players? - were excited to try this blended approach to film entertainment. Many were let down, myself included; the concept was interesting and the storyline enjoyable but it didn’t achieve Netflix’s goal of immersing the viewers in the story - and if anything, I think it came off a bit gimmicky. 

Screenshot of Stranger Things: 1984 - features an top-down 8-bit view of a room with a bearded man wearing a fedora as the avatar.
Stranger Things: 1984, one of the games available on the Netflix Gaming library. (Image credit: Netflix)

As Kraaijenbrink explains for Forbes, this mixture of passive and active just doesn’t work. Users already associate Netflix as a platform to passively consume content - watching films and series - and not with the active, playing games element that the service is attempting to encourage users into. By trying to add both into one app, Kraaijenbrink argues, because “Netflix is so strongly invested in the passive category, we can expect consumers to have difficulties crossing the boundaries”.

There’s also already very easy systems set up for mobile users to play games on Android and Apple, through the app store which already offers a plethora of good, often free, games. Without a huge financial input or specific games which really take off, it seems likely that Netflix will face (and start to lose against) market competition as they have with other streaming services.

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