Netflix Expands Gaming Ambitions with Cloud-Streamed Offerings

Two years after first introducing a range of games on mobile devices, Netflix has officially announced the beginning of its public tests for cloud-streamed games. Commencing Monday, a select group of Netflix subscribers in Canada and the UK will be able to access Netflix games streamed directly to specified TVs, internet-connected TV devices, and via the Netflix website.

A Step Forward in Gaming

Netflix initially ventured into the gaming realm by offering mobile game titles as complimentary perks for its subscribers in November 2021. These titles were previously limited to iOS and Android platforms. However, this latest move signifies a pivotal expansion for the company, now allowing subscribers to play Netflix’s titles on a wider array of devices, including TVs and web browsers. This progression suggests that Netflix is setting itself up to challenge other gaming giants for valuable TV and PC screen time.

Games on Offer

The initial phase of this expansion will see two games available for streaming. The first is Oxenfree, produced by Night School Studio, a company now under Netflix’s ownership. The second is Molehew’s Mining Adventure, described by Netflix’s VP of games, Mike Verdu, as a “gem-mining arcade game.”

Device Compatibility

During this test phase, the games will be compatible with the following devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV streaming media players
  • Chromecast with Google TV
  • LG TVs
  • Nvidia Shield TV
  • Roku devices and TVs
  • Samsung Smart TVs
  • Walmart Onn

Netflix ensures that compatibility with more devices will be progressively rolled out.

Gameplay Experience

Subscribers aiming to play games on their TVs can do so using their smartphones as controllers. A dedicated controller app has been released by Netflix for this purpose. When a game is selected for play on TV, a QR code appears on the screen. Scanning this QR code with a smartphone will enable its use as a game controller. Android users can access the controller through the Netflix app, while iOS users will need to download a separate controller app. For web players, games can be enjoyed using a standard mouse and keyboard setup.

While direct feedback from players on the streaming quality is still pending, considering Netflix’s vast experience in streaming videos, a smooth experience is expected. Nonetheless, this initial release is perceived as a “soft launch”, allowing Netflix to troubleshoot any potential hitches before a broader release.

Netflix’s Strategy

The primary purpose of this “limited beta” is to rigorously test Netflix’s game streaming technology, ensuring a seamless integration of the controller and enhancing the overall user experience. The company’s approach to cloud gaming seems to be more aligned with Microsoft’s strategy, focusing on added value for subscribers, rather than attempting a full-blown gaming service. With around 70 mobile games currently available and plans to expand this to 95 by the end of 2023, including titles inspired by Netflix’s original TV shows, Netflix aims to become a formidable contender in the gaming industry.

The Road Ahead

As stated by Mike Verdu, “By making games available on more devices, we hope to make games even easier to play for our members around the world.” This sentiment encapsulates the company’s dedication to bringing diverse, high-quality gaming experiences to its members globally.

While this testing phase is limited in its current form, Netflix anticipates valuable feedback from its beta testers. This will be instrumental in fine-tuning the service and setting the stage for subsequent launches.

For further details, check out Mike Verdu’s announcement on the official Netflix blog.

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