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Netflix may soon launch video games based on 'Wednesday', 'Squid Game' and other originals

After success in its original movies and TV shows, Netflix is now set to deliver big in the video gaming industry. Last year, the platform put up a billboard in Los Angeles that read: “Wait, Netflix Has Games?” hinting at its upcoming venture.

In September, Netflix’sco-CEO Greg Peters shared with the investors his vision of venturing into games across all platforms.

“We know we’re not going away…because someday we’re going to be everywhere with games across all devices that we serve,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

In an apparent bid to expand its catalogue, in the next few months Netflix is set to introduce its users to games based on hit shows such as Squid Games and Wednesday that the subscribers will be able to play on their mobile devices. The streaming giant is also discussing games based on Extraction and Black Mirror.

People familiar with the matter have also said that Netflix has a plan to release an action-adventure series Grand Theft Auto through a licensing deal.

However, the platform will continue to license its well-known games such as Bloons TD 6 and Classic Solitaire that are currently present in the catalogue.

For now, games are a part of Netflix’s strategy to retain existing users and attract new ones even though it does not generate revenue from its games yet as the platform allows users to download the games from the app at no extra charge.

Games have been downloaded from Netflix “70.5 million times globally as of September 20, up from 30.4 million last September,” reported the publication, noting that this is just a fraction of downloads for game companies like Roblox and Activision.

However, less than one per cent of the total Netflix subscribers are playing games on the platform daily.

“Would a non-gamer play a Netflix game?… This is the big question,” said Judah Silver, an agent with United Talent Agency who works with game developers.

The report also pointed out that it was unlikely that a video game enthusiast would subscribe to Netflix only to play games.

“I don’t see myself ever getting a Netflix subscription for gaming,” said Luis Ruvalcaba, a 38-year-old game who does not have an account on Netflix and already subscribed to Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus.

However, an avid gamer Adam Wood said he “enjoys Netflix games” and has been hooked to the game Into the Breach.

Even though Netflix has mobile games, they have found that only about half of the subscribers who press “get game” actually play the game probably because subscribers would have to go to Apple’s App Store to finish the download. Moreover, downloading games on mobile is more time taking and eats up memory. However, five of Netflix’s most downloaded games are based on its own shows and movies.

Though the approximate expenditure that Netflix incurs on gaming currently is at $1 billion, the streaming platform is reportedly looking to hire dozens of game executives to oversee its first big-budget game.

“Netflix needs to get this right if they are going to get people to spend more time with them,” said Brandon Ross, an analyst with LightShed Partners.

It was back in 2020 when Netflix first decided to get into games when its subscribers were growing rapidly since people were stuck at home owing to Covid. In the following year, Netflix hired Mike Verduwho used to oversee game studios at Meta and Electronic Arts, to lead the initiative.

In 2021, Netflix bought Night School Studio that developed the platform’s first internally developed game- Oxenfree II.

To move beyond phones, the company is testing an app called ‘Netflix Game Controller’ in the UK and Canada that can turn phones into controllers so the games can played on TV and computer.

While Netflix has made up its mind to succeed in its latest venture, some executives are concerned about their chances after a giant like Google failed in the gaming industry and closed its business earlier this year.

(Published 18 October 2023, 17:01 IST)

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