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Netflix lays out the map for its gaming ambitions

Spree Lays // Illustration by Kate Walker

Netflix lays out the map for its gaming ambitions


Future. Netflix’s entrance into the gaming market is shaping up to be more than just a half-hearted ambition, with the streamer ramping up acquisitions and quickly rolling out mobile games. If Netflix does make a name for itself in the space, it could have the infrastructure to take on Xbox and PlayStation as a cloud-based gaming juggernaut.

Choose your acquisition

Netflix is serious about its gaming game-plan.

  • A year after announcing its plan to add video games to the service, Netflix has made three splash acquisitions in the space: Texas-based Boss Fight Studios, California-based Night School Studio, and Finland’s Next Games.
  • That’s a major shift from Netflix’s history in M&As — throughout its history, the company has only made a handful of acquisitions.
  • This signals Netflix’s aim to scale up fast in the sector, maybe hoping to be the first streamer to get into gaming (Netflix has a history of being first).

After beta testing a slate of games — which included two titles based on Stranger Things — in Poland back in August of last year, the platform started rolling them out to all Android users in November.

Time war

THR believes Netflix is likely bullish on games for a number of reasons:

  • For one, subscriber growth has stalled in the U.S., so the streamer is looking at games as a way to kickstart growth again.
  • Plus, a new Deloitte survey found that video games are the most popular form of entertainment for Gen Z.
    • In 2019, Netflix noted that “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.”
  • And finally, with Netflix raising prices to support its huge content spend, adding games could help justify the increase to customers.

But there’s another aspect that may be driving the gaming push: Netflix’s desire to become more popular on mobile devices. The games released so far have all been for mobile, and the streamer has also ramped up marketing for its TikTok-like feature, Fast Laughs.

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