Netflix Games library is brilliant, but unloved

Netflix Games subscriber usage
Source: Netflix.

In an effort to diversify its entertainment portfolio, streaming giant Netflix expanded its TV show and movie offering to include video games on mobile devices. However, the company seems to have hit a snag: only a minuscule amount of subscribers are actually playing the games, despite some excellent titles.

Data from app analytics firm Apptopia estimates games available through Netflix have been downloaded 23.3 million times in total and average 1.7 million users per day. In other words, less than 1% of the service’s 221 million subscribers. That Netflix includes fantastic games like Moonlighter, platform-exclusive Poinpy from renowned label Devolver Digital, and Into the Breach – one of the best tactics games in recent years – seems to have had little impact.

Netflix began its gaming foray in November 2021 with a small library, before ramping up its efforts, culminating in announcements galore during the 2022 “Not-E3” period. The current and upcoming range of games also includes adaptations of Netflix series Stranger Things, The Queen’s Gambit, plus Shadow and Bone. To support the company’s push into video games, several studios – such as Oxenfree developer Night School – have joined Netflix.

Although Netflix will likely have a clearer picture of usage data than an external analytics company, it’s still an indication of a poor adoption rate. It hasn’t been a good year for the US-based company so far. Subscribers are dropping off, with 1.28 million users from the US and Canada leaving the service between March and June. There are also plans to bring in cheaper ad-supported plans to stop the slide. Whether video games are enough to entice people to sign up or stay remains to be seen, Currently, the reported game usage data indicates a broad lack of awareness, discoverability issues, apathy – or all of the above. 

To play a Netflix-listed game, you need to scroll to the games row via the mobile app. Following this, selecting a game will open either an App Store or Google Play listing, where you can download and play it at no extra cost. This might be one of the issues: friction generated by multiple steps that navigate away from the Netflix app.

Regardless of what’s preventing Netflix subscribers from playing its games, here’s hoping more people realise what they’re missing out on. My concern is less directed towards the global mega-corporation, and more toward the developers whose work deserves success and recognition. If nothing else, download Poinpy and Into the Breach for an absolute blast of a time.

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