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Netflix's mobile gaming gamble: an expensive battle for your attention

Ampere Analysis
Card Blast
Teeter Up
App Store
Night School
the New York Times
Shooting Hoops
Publicis Sapient
Money Heist
Riot Forge
League of Legends developer Riot Games
Hextech Mayhem
Snap Inc.
Future US Inc
New York

Reed Hastings
Mike Verdu
James Bond
Roberto Barrera
Leanne Loombe
Phil Spencer
Greg Peters
Al Berry

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan
Ted Sarandos
Evan Spiegel


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Axel Metz

Green Rock

Riot Games

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The New York Times
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Whatever the reason, Netflix finds itself needing to take new risks in 2022 – and its recent move into mobile gaming may prove a shrewder power play than many first thought.Netflix began its courtship of the games industry back in 2016, partnering with developer BonusXP on a Stranger Things-inspired mobile title (imaginatively named Stranger Things: The Game) released in tandem with the second season of its hit drama series. Those baby steps turned into a full-blown rollout of proprietary titles on the Netflix app late last year, with five games – Stranger Things: 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Shooting Hoops, Card Blast and Teeter Up – becoming available for all Netflix subscribers to download and play on their mobiles and tablets at no additional cost (the former Stranger Things title was rebranded and made exclusive to Netflix as part of the move).In a press release accompanying the announcement, the company’s game development chief, Mike Verdu, warned that it was still “early days” for the brand’s gaming ambitions – but Netflix bigwigs seem a touch more confident. Speaking in January of this year, CEO Hastings appeared to throw caution to the wind when telling investors that the company's goal is to “amaze members by having the absolute best [games] in the [mobile] category.” Admittedly, this very public enthusiasm came before its first quarter spiral, though it’s hard to believe that, even in January, Netflix executives weren't aware of the choppy waters ahead.In the months since that initial rollout, Netflix has regularly added more mobile games to its app library, growing the platform’s offering to a modest 18 titles at the time of writing. Subscribers aren’t charged more for the pleasure of accessing Shooting Hoops or Card Blast in the Netflix app; these games are simply another way to entertain – and, crucially, retain – those who are already invested in the brand’s ecosystem.In theory, that independence from monetization grants Netflix the creative freedom to deliver on its promise of making “the absolute best” mobile games. Just as the popularity of the company’s movies and TV shows determines its future content slate, the user-based decision-making going on inside Netflix games will likewise be tracked and used to inform creative decisions around its intellectual property (IP).For instance, the frequency with which playable characters are selected in Stranger Things 3: The Game could influence the screen time of their real-life counterparts in future seasons of Stranger Things the show, while story-focused games like This is a True Story might be adapted into award-winning series should they prove a hit with players. All possible, and all highly likely to keep fans glued to the Netflix app.”Having only announced its grand gaming ambitions a handful of months ago, Netflix isn’t yet anywhere close to maximizing the potential of its IP – a couple of Stranger Things titles are the only franchise-based games you’ll recognize in the current Netflix library – but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we might see mobile game adaptations for each of its tentpole franchises before the year is out. This now infamous reputation for pulling the plug on projects that fail to provide instant returns doesn’t bode well for Netflix’s chances of producing “the absolute best [games] in the [mobile] category”, as CEO Reed Hastings proclaimed it would do at the turn of the year, nor for the fortunes of the developers under the company’s control.We reached out to employees at Riot Forge, the subsidiary of League of Legends developer Riot Games responsible for bringing Hextech Mayhem to the Netflix app, for comment on whether the streamer’s subscriber losses have dented its hopes of continuing a working relationship with Netflix, but the topic was “[not] something [they were] willing to comment on at this time”. It's not easy, and the company may need fresh thinking to be able to do that, but this is where gaming comes into play.”Perhaps, then, mobile gaming is of equal importance to Netflix’s growth strategy as the myriad movies and TV shows heading to its screens in the next few years.

As said here by Axel Metz