In a significant stride towards expanding its digital entertainment empire, Netflix has unveiled its foray into cloud-streamed gaming, initiating the first public tests of this innovative venture. As of Monday, a select group of Netflix subscribers in Canada and the UK will have the exclusive opportunity to explore a range of Netflix games, accessible via a variety of platforms, including select TVs, connected TV devices, and web browsers on Netflix.com.
Mike Verdu, the Vice President of Games at Netflix, unveiled this endeavor through a blog post, emphasizing the “limited beta test” nature of the project and its availability to only a “small number of members” initially. Although the initial launch is modest in scope, it symbolizes a potential watershed moment for Netflix’s ambitious foray into the gaming realm.
Having initially introduced mobile gaming as an added perk for subscribers in November 2021, the company is now pushing the envelope by extending its gaming repertoire beyond iOS and Android. The introduction of cloud-streamed games for TVs and web browsers opens up a plethora of possibilities for subscribers, allowing them to enjoy Netflix’s gaming library across a wider range of devices. Moreover, this move positions Netflix as a contender for gaming enthusiasts’ attention on TV screens and personal computers.
The inaugural lineup of games available includes the acclaimed Oxenfree, developed by Night School Studio, a company that has since been acquired by Netflix. Additionally, a fresh title, Molehew’s Mining Adventure, joins the fray—a “gem-mining arcade game,” as described by Verdu.
Controlling these games on television screens will entail using smartphones as controllers. Android users will be able to access the controller via the Netflix app, while iOS users will need to download a designated controller application—a development that surfaced on the App Store recently. For those enjoying the games on web browsers, the classic combination of mouse and keyboard will provide the means for interaction.
Several television brands and connected TV devices have been enlisted to support Netflix’s initial foray into gaming, including Amazon Fire TV streaming media players, Chromecast with Google TV, LG TVs, Nvidia Shield TV, Roku devices and TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, and Walmart Onn. Verdu has affirmed that the compatibility list will continue to expand progressively.
While personal experiences with Netflix’s cloud-streamed games are not yet widespread, the platform’s well-established prowess in video streaming suggests a high likelihood of a seamless and enjoyable gaming experience. However, it is essential to acknowledge that any interruptions in the streaming process might prove more vexing in the context of gaming compared to passive video watching.
Nonetheless, any potential teething problems are likely anticipated by Netflix, as the company begins this new venture on a smaller scale, allowing room for refinement. Netflix, adopting a strategy akin to Microsoft’s rather than Google’s ill-fated Stadia approach, views cloud gaming as an added value proposition. As such, the expectation of perfection from the outset might be tempered. In the event of any hiccups, subscribers can always revert to the library of 70 mobile games at their disposal.
In the grand scheme of the digital entertainment landscape, Netflix’s foray into cloud-streamed gaming emerges as a strategic move to capture new horizons and deepen its engagement with subscribers. While the journey has just begun, the potential for a marriage of Netflix’s content curation prowess and the immersive world of gaming is undeniably exciting, promising a new dimension of entertainment for viewers across the globe.
Moreover, this exciting stride by Netflix follows last month’s jaw-dropping news of hiring a machine-learning product manager with an astounding annual salary range of $300,000 to $900,000. This bold talent acquisition demonstrates Netflix’s commitment to harnessing cutting-edge technology in multiple facets of its operations.