Netflix is accelerating its push into video games and plans to double its catalog by the end of the year, but right now, few of the streaming giant’s subscribers are playing.
The company has been rolling out the games since November as a way to keep users engaged between show releases. These games are only accessible to subscribers, but must be downloaded as separate apps.
According to app analytics firm Apptopia, these games have been downloaded 23.3 million times in total and have an average daily user of 1.7 million. That’s less than 1 percent of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.
Gaming’s importance to Netflix’s overall strategy has arguably grown in recent months as the company faces increased competition for subscriber attention. After losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter, Netflix lost nearly 1 million subscribers in the second quarter — its first subscriber decline in more than a decade.
“One of the many advantages of Netflix pursuing this strategy is the ability to drive engagement after a show first appears on the platform,” said Tom Forte, an analyst at Prosek Partners.
Still, Netflix COO Greg Peters said last year that the company “spent months, frankly, years” to learn how games can keep customers on the service.
“We’re going to experiment and try a lot of things,” Peters said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “But I would say that our focus on long-term prizes is more focused on our ability to create attributes that relate to the universe, the characters, the stories we’re building.”
the company’s A directory that currently contains 24 gaming applications Covers a variety of genres and Netflix shows like “Stranger Things: 1984”. Several are modeled after popular card games, such as Mahjong Solitaire and Blast Kitten.
By the end of the year, the catalog will grow to 50 games, including “Queen’s Gambit Chess,” based on the hit Netflix series, according to company representatives.
Netflix has been cautious about how it plans to make video games a core part of the company’s strategy, rather than just a hobby.
“We’re still intentionally keeping things 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,” said Leanne Loombe, head of Netflix. External Gaming, in a Tribeca Film Festival Panel Discussion in June.
Netflix hinted earlier this year that it would add licensing of popular intellectual property to its new games.
“We’re open to licensing, accessing big gaming IP that people will recognize,” Peters january says“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 this adds up to growing investments. Netflix has not disclosed spending to develop its video game division, but the efforts are capital-intensive. Netflix’s acquisition of Finnish developer Next Games cost the streaming company about $72 million.
Forrester analyst Mike Proulx noted that Netflix has been slowly investing in games, and that still seems to be what he sees as “more testing and experimentation at this stage.” He points out that most people don’t associate Netflix with gaming.
So far, Netflix games have far less downloads than the leading mobile games – Subway Surfers, Roblox and Among Us, for a select few – Each has over 100 million downloads, according to Apptopia. Still, downloads have been slowly climbing since May, after a downward trend that began in December.
“We have to delight our members by having the absolute best in the category,” Netflix co-CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in January. Well done. It just doesn’t make sense to be involved.”