Netflix is ramping up its video game rollout with plans to double its catalog of offerings by the end of the year, but few of the streaming giant’s subscribers are currently playing.
Since last November, the company has been rolling out games to keep users engaged between broadcast releases. The games are only accessible to subscribers, but must be downloaded as separate apps.
According to app analytics company Apptopia, the games have been downloaded a total of 23.3 million times and average 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 has reportedly increased in recent months as the company faces increasing competition for users’ attention. In the second quarter, Netflix lost 200,000 of its nearly one million subscribers in the first quarter, its first subscriber decline in more than a decade.
In a letter to shareholders last year, Netflix named Epic Games and TikTok as its biggest competitors for people’s time.
“One of the many advantages for Netflix in pursuing this strategy is the ability to engage engagement beyond the time a show is first released on the platform,” said Tom Forte, an analyst at Prosek Partners.
Still, Netflix CEO Greg Peters said last year the company had “many months and frankly years” to learn how games can keep customers on the service.
“We’re experimental and we’re trying a lot of things,” Peters said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call. “But I would say our eyes on the long-term prize are more focused on our ability to create properties that relate to the universes, characters and stories that we’re building.”
The company’s current catalog of 24 gaming apps spans genres and Netflix shows like “Stranger Things: 1984.” Several are modeled after popular card games such as Mahjong Solitaire and Exploding Kittens.
According to a company representative, the catalog will grow to 50 games by the end of the year, including “Queen’s Gambit Chess,” based on the hit Netflix series.
Netflix has been careful about how it plans to make video games a core part of the company’s strategy, rather than just a side hobby. See the article : High school sports; See Greater Lansing Player of the Year winners.
“We’re still intentionally keeping things a little quiet because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what things really resonate with our members, what games people want to play,” Netflix CEO Leanne Loombe. outside games, said during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
Netflix hinted earlier this year that it would license the popular intellectual property for its new gaming extras.
“We’re open to licensing, getting access to big game IP that people recognize,” Peters said in January. “And I think you’ll see some of that in the coming year.”
Netflix used to use outside developers for its current catalog, but has acquired three video game developers in the past year.
All this adds up to growing investment. Netflix has not disclosed how much it is spending to develop its video game segment, but the effort is capital intensive. Netflix’s acquisition of Finnish developer Next Games cost the streamer about $72 million.
Forrester analyst Mike Proulx noted that Netflix has been slow to invest in games and that it still appears to be what he would consider “more of a test and experiment” at this stage. He noted that most people don’t associate Netflix with gaming.
So far, the download figures for Netflix games are much smaller than the leading mobile games – Subway Surfers, Roblox and Before Us – which have each been downloaded more than 100 million, according to Apptopia. However, downloads have slowly picked up since May after a downward trend that began in December.
“We have to please our members by having the absolute best in the category,” Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in January. “We have to be exceptionally great at it. There’s no point in just being at it.”