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Netflix reaches for the skies with a push toward cloud gaming

https://futureparty.com/stories/Netflix-Cloud-Gaming-thefutureparty
Illustration by Kate Walker

Netflix reaches for the skies with a push toward cloud gaming

 

The Future. Netflix has announced that it wants to enter the cloud gaming sphere. Going head-to-head with huge competitors like Amazon and Google is a bold move for the streaming giant, and it will have to find ways to succeed where its rivals have stumbled. But if the risk pays off, Netflix could turn things around after a devastating year for their stock and subscription numbers.

Not playing around

At the Techcrunch Disrupt conference earlier this week, Netflix gaming VP Mike Verdu announced that the company was “seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering.”

  • The cloud venture will only cater to mobile devices for now, though Netflix hasn’t ruled out console gaming. There’s been no mention of a dedicated controller, like what competitors Google’s Stadia and Amazon’s Luna have.
  • Netflix already has 35 games on their service and 14 more currently in development. Many of these are based on Netflix’s original IP, like Stranger Things, while others are licensed. The goal, according to Verdu, is to eventually strike a 50/50 balance between original and licensed IP.
  • The company is also launching a new internal studio (Netflix’s fifth) in southern California. The studio will be headed by Chacko Sonny, a former executive producer of Overwatch.

This announcement came off a surprisingly positive Q3 for Netflix, which saw the addition of 2.41M subscribers when the streamer only expected 1M.

Storm’s a-brewing
Cloud gaming isn’t easy to pull off. Google recently announced it will shutter Stadia in January of next year due to a lack of user engagement, and Amazon’s Luna hasn’t exactly been a hit either. One of the hardest parts of cloud gaming to get right is the issue of latency — waiting a moment while your TV show loads is ok, but with gaming, even tiny amounts of lag can ruin the experience. If giants such as Google and Amazon can’t nail this problem, it’s hard to see how Netflix will — especially if their service is exclusive to mobile devices.

There are examples of success, though. The cloud gaming services of Microsoft and Nvidia have both performed well, though Microsoft has the advantage of a huge library of developed games spanning decades that they can upload to their service.

Maybe Netflix can find a happy medium. If they do it just right, they use games to tide over current subscribers between big releases of their popular shows and attract new young users for whom gaming is a bigger draw than TV.

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