Netflix is accelerating its video game push with plans to double its offering by the end of the year, but for now, few of the streaming giant’s subscribers are playing.
Since last November, the company has been rolling out games as a way to keep users engaged between program releases. The game is only accessible to subscribers, but must be downloaded as a separate app.
According to Apptopia, an application analytics company, the games were downloaded a total of 23.3 million times and averaged 1.7 million daily users. That’s less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
The importance of games to Netflix’s overall strategy is said to have increased in recent months as the company faces increasingly stiff competition for user attention. In Q2, Netflix lost almost a million subscribersafter losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter – its first subscribers dropped in more than a decade.
Prosek Partners analyst Tom Forte said: “One of the many advantages for Netflix in pursuing this strategy is its ability to drive engagement even more than when the show first launched on the platform.
However, Netflix CEO Greg Peters said last year it took the company “months and really, honestly, years” to figure out how games could keep customers using the service. service.
“We’re going to experiment and try a lot of things,” Peters said on the company’s Q4 earnings conference call. “But I can say that the eye we have for the long-term prize is actually more focused on our ability to create properties that connect to the universe, the characters, the story that we’re going to have. we’re building.”
Of the company current catalog of 24 game apps includes a variety of Netflix genres and shows, such as “Stranger Things: 1984.” Some are modeled after popular card gamesuch as “Mahjong Solitaire” and “Exploding Kittens”.
The catalog will grow to 50 games later this year, including “Queen’s Gambit Chess,” based on Netflix’s hit series, according to company representatives.
Netflix has been puzzling over how it plans to make video games a core part of the company’s strategy, rather than merely a side hobby.
“We’re still intentionally keeping things quiet for a bit because we’re still learning, experimenting, and trying to figure out things that will really resonate with our members, games that people want to play,” Leanne Loombe, Netflix’s head of outside games, said in a statement Workshop at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.
Netflix hinted earlier this year that it would license popular intellectual property for its new game add-ons.
“We’re ready to license, access the big game IP that everyone will recognize,” Peters said in January. “And I think you’re going to see some of that happen over the next year.”
Netflix has tapped outside developers for its current catalog, but has acquired three video game developers in the past year.
All of that adds up to the growing investment. Netflix does not disclose how much it has spent developing its video games business, but these efforts are both capital intensive. Netflix’s acquisition of Finnish developer Next Games has cost the streamer about $ 72 million.
Forrester analyst Mike Proulx noted that Netflix has been investing in the game slowly, and that still appears to be something he would consider “more of a trial and error at this stage.” He noted that most people don’t associate Netflix with the game.
Download figures for Netflix games are far behind the top mobile games so far – Subway Surfers, Roblox and Among Us, for a few – each app has more than 100 million downloads, according to Apptopia. However, downloads have increased slowly since May, after a downtrend began in December.
“We have to please our members by having the absolute best in the category,” Netflix co-CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in January. “We have to be great in that area. There’s no point in just being in it.”