Netflix has been trying to differentiate itself from the competition. Since Netflix created its streaming business, the industry has become incredibly crowded. Everyone needs a hook, and Netflix has gone all in on gaming as that differentiator. But, the mobile game business has not been the company's only intention, and the next phase of Netflix Games hit the App Store this week with a mobile game controller.
Netflix Games' future
Currently, Netflix Games are available on your mobile device through the Netflix app. But, mobile is not where Netflix focuses any of its efforts - it's all about the full television experience. That's where Netflix Games is headed next, onto the big screen. But, the company doesn't really seem to want to get into the hardware business, at least not yet. Because of that, the first stage of television gaming comes in the form of a mobile app that will serve as a controller.
The Netflix Game Controller, which is currently available in the App Store, has this description,
Coming soon to Netflix. Play games on your TV with the Netflix Game Controller. This Game Controller app pairs with your TV and allows you to play games on Netflix using your phone or mobile device.
As of writing, the app does nothing, as the Netflix Games capabilities have not come to fruition on television. In the app, it says the features are currently in Beta and will be coming later. Based on the text, it is possible that the controls for the games might change depending on the game, which is an interesting approach. This is because the text suggests that you'll need to pair the app with the individual game, using the instructions on the screen. This leaves a lot of possibility for the future of the Netflix Games ecosystem, making it an exciting future prospect.
Unfortunately, we don't know a whole lot about what this experience is going to look like. Will it be available only on smart TVs, or will OTT devices, like Roku and Xbox, also see the feature? We'll have to wait and see what the rollout looks like.
Netflix Games' present
Many users have no idea that games come as part of their Netflix subscription. This is because it's a mobile-exclusive offering right now, and many people use the service through their TV or OTT device. But, even if you do use the mobile app, the Netflix Games section is not terribly obvious. Originally, there was a big specialized bar that spotlighted the games. In searching just now, the games are inline with the video content and the icons are even smaller than the images for the videos.
For those who are aware of the feature, it's not been a huge draw. Mobile games have a particular set of fans, and it is not everyone. For example, there are few mobile games that I interact with for more than a few days. Partially because mobile games tend to be not as deep as those for PC or consoles. But, Netflix is working on that as well.
It is a big gamble for Netflix to put this focus on gaming. However, if it pays off and Netflix can make a name for itself in the industry, it could help set them apart.