Netflix has laid down the gauntlet to its recently launched gaming library, saying that it wants it to be the best gaming service around. Last year Netflix rolled out a free extra to subscribers – smartphone games that can be played via the Netflix app. Among the games included in this service are apps for hit series such as Stranger Things, and while the Netflix gaming library is relatively small right now it sounds like the streaming giant has big plans for it.
As highlighted recently on Twitter by CNBC media and tech reporter Alex Sherman: “Interesting comment from Netflix’s Reed Hastings: Gaming isn’t just a hobby for them. In fact, he says, don’t bother asking about what Netflix is going to do next until it’s offering the best gaming service available. Obviously a high priority for the company now.”
Netflix has a long way to go before it can contemplate competing with the biggest players in the gaming arena, such as Microsoft – whose Game Pass subscription service, which offers members access to hundreds of games for a monthly price, was recently bolstered by the jaw-dropping acquisition of Call of Duty makers Activision Blizzard.
But to help on this front Netflix is building its own games studio, with chief product officer Greg Peters earlier this month saying Netflix had hired “some incredible talent” to help on this front and even a behind-the-scenes acquisition taking place.
And with this new focus on gaming, Netflix is building something that its big rival – Prime Video – simply can’t match.
Amazon does have its own game streaming service, Luna, which is only available in select countries – and isn’t included with a Prime Video subscription. While Amazon Prime membership, which includes access to Prime Video, does offer access to Prime Gaming – which gives subscribers free games to play each month. But these are free PC downloads, so won’t appeal to as wide an audience as what Netflix is cooking up.
The Netflix gaming pledge came after the streaming giant revealed last week that competition from rival services was affecting its growth.
The 2.5million new subscribers Netflix expects to gain in Q1 2022 is around half (5.9million) of what analysts had forecast.
In a letter to shareholders Netflix said: “Even in a world of uncertainty and increasing competition, we’re optimistic about our long-term growth prospects as streaming supplants linear entertainment around the world”.
In the face of this slowdown in user growth, Netflix’s gaming arm may be the perfect antidote to differentiate itself from rivals like Prime Video and Disney Plus and draw new members in.
At the end of 2021 Netflix hit 221.8 million users. It still is the world’s most popular streaming service, with Prime Video in second place.