Netflix is accelerating its move into video games with plans to double its catalog of offerings by the end of the year, but few of the streaming giant’s subscribers are playing at the moment.
Since last November, the company has been releasing games to keep users interested between shows. The games are only available to subscribers, but must be downloaded as separate apps.
According to Apptopia, an app analytics company, games have been downloaded a total of 23.3 million times and an average of 1.7 million users per day. That’s less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
The importance of games to Netflix’s overall strategy may have grown in recent months as the company faces intensifying competition for user attention. In the second quarter, Netflix lost almost a million subscribersafter losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter — Its first subscriber has been declining in more than a decade.
“One of Netflix’s many benefits in pursuing this strategy is the ability to drive engagement after the show first launches on the platform,” said Prosek Partners analyst Tom Forte.
However, Netflix COO Greg Peters said the company spent “many months and, frankly, years” last year exploring how games can keep customers on the service.
“We’re going to experiment and try a lot of things,” Peters said during a conference call on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report. “But I would say that our vision for the long-term prize is really more focused on our ability to create objects related to the universes, characters and stories that we create.”
companies current catalog of 24 game applications covers various genres and Netflix shows such as Stranger Things 1984. Some are patterned popular card gamessuch as “Mahjong Solitaire” and “Explosive Kittens”.
The catalog will grow to 50 games by the end of the year, including Queen’s Gambit Chess, based on the hit Netflix series, according to a company spokesperson.
Netflix is shying away from plans to make video games a core part of the company’s strategy, rather than just a side hobby.
“We’re still intentionally keeping everything under wraps because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what things will actually resonate with our members, what games people want to play,” said Lynn Lumbe, head of Netflix. external games, said during panel at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
Earlier this year, Netflix hinted that it would be licensing the popular intellectual property for its new game additions.
“We are open to licensing, access to a lot of gaming intellectual property that people will recognize,” Peters. said in January. “And I think you’ll see some of them happen next year.”
Netflix has brought in outside developers for its current catalog but acquired three video game developers last year.
All this contributes to the growth of investments. Netflix doesn’t disclose how much it’s spending on growing its video game segment, but those efforts are capital-intensive. Netflix’s acquisition of Finnish developer Next Games cost the streamer an estimated $72 million.
Forrester analyst Mike Proulx noted that Netflix has been slow to invest in games, and that he still considers it “more of a test and experiment” at this stage. He noted that most people do not associate Netflix with games.
So far, download numbers for Netflix games are far behind the top mobile games like Subway Surfers, Roblox and Among Us. – each with over 100 million downloads, according to Apptopia. However, since May, the number of downloads has slowly increased after a downward trend that began in December.
“We must delight our members by offering the absolute best in its category,” Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said in January. “We have to be especially good at this. There’s no point in just being in it.”