Since launching its mobile games offering to members seven months ago, Netflix has released a total of 23 titles. The streamer is debuting its “Queen’s Gambit” game later this year and has revealed plans to make other games based on popular Netflix IP — including “Shadow and Bone,” “Too Hot to Handle” and “Money Heist” — plus a unique “Exploding Kittens” franchise plan that will see both a TV series and new version of the hit mobile game come to the platform. Despite those splashy announcements, Netflix still hasn’t given much in the way of large-scale details about its gaming future.
But part of the streamer’s mobile-gaming strategy, for the moment, is not announcing its strategy.
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“We started in November of last year, so only a handful of months and we’re still intentionally keeping things a little bit quiet because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what things are going to actually resonate with our members, what games people want to play,” Leanne Loombe, Netflix’s head of external games, said during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday. “So it’s really important that we have some time to build up to that.”
Loombe, who was joined on the panel by some of Netflix’s partner game developers and creators, said part of the six-month-plus experiment has also been “trying out different ways of discoverability,” noting that for Android devices, they had chosen to create an actual “Games” tab, while the iOS app sees Netflix mobile games in a row.
“We want to make sure there is a game on Netflix for every single one of our members, whether that’s someone that plays games every single day or someone that’s brand new to games or wants to try something like Netflix out,” Loombe said. “A very accessible, broad-appealing game, something that people can start to play easily. And starting with mobile is a really great way for us to ensure that we can get games into people’s hands easily and remove some of that friction that might exist in other platforms.”
Netflix plans to double its mobile games by the end of the year, a lofty goal as the company reevaluates things across the board amid layoffs and dipping stock prices prompted by a drop in subscribers that it’s predicted will only take a harder hit in Q2. But while much is uncertain right now, games appear to be a key aspect of Netflix’s future.
“It’s still very, very new, but one of the things we want to do is make sure that games are a really valuable part of our members’ subscription,” Loombe said. “So there are no ads, there are no additional costs. Every single game is free with your subscription and there’s no monetization, which is a really great thing for developers from a creative perspective. They get to really focus on making great games and not having to worry about creating games that just drive revenue and money.”
But the games do need to be good for Netflix — which is not an easily definable trait for Loombe and her team yet.
“We’re still figuring out what does a great game look like on Netflix? What does that performance look like? What does success look like? And we can start using that data to then sort of massage our strategies into next year,” she said. “Really figure out what our members want from our games and how we can support and develop this even more to make those kind of great games.”
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