Netflix Starts Limited Testing Cloud Streaming Games In Canada and UK

By Todd Russell Aug18,2023

Netflix is beginning to test cloud-based game streaming in Canada nd the UK. Limited testing, according to this article:

Computer players can use a mouse and keyboard to play the games: Oxenfree, from Netflix-owned Night School Studio, and Molehew’s Mining Adventure.
People playing the TV can use a new app released by Netflix last week that turns their phone into a game controller, complete with virtual buttons.

Since Netflix announced they were getting into the games business, I have been going back and forth on whether or not this is smart direction for them. I mean, who thinks of Netflix for streaming games? Then again, their roots of DVD by mail did lend itself to games by mail, had they ever pulled that trigger (spoiler: they didn’t). Blockbuster stores were handy for renting game while Netflix only flirted with the idea of renting games by mail.

Yes, Netflix killed it off in 2012 (see: Netflix Backpedals On Video Game Rental Plans). I remembered this when Netflix announced they were going to offer mobile games for free to Netflix subscribers. Again, who is thinking: mobile games + Netflix? It seems outside their core business. Some might argue, way outside, as do you know anybody as of this writing that is playing these Netflix mobile games?

I tried them quite some time ago. One of them was Stranger Things, and they were, well, sort of average mobile games. Pretty much forgetable mobile games. You’re not going to build serious gaming with a few average mobile games, Netflix. Maybe if they partner up with, I don’t know, Apple and look at what they are doing with Apple Arcade? That, too, is a streaming game service, and Apple is working it pretty well from my last test. Lots and lots of multiplayer online games, and some of them are a lot of fun.

No? OK, at least use Apple Arcade as some kind of template for what Netflix could/might do to show they are taking gaming seriously. It is interesting to see them flirting with gaming, but it seems gimmicky with what they are testing mentioned above. Sadly, it’s all been done before — and, dare I suggest without ever seeing it — better. Come on, Netflix, stick to what you do: streaming. Lower our streaming rates, instead of increasing them. Stop canceling shows we like. You probably should bail on the games plans like you did on games rental, unless you start taking it more seriously. Buy a vowel from Vanna, ask Google Stadia how it worked for them.

UPDATE 1/5/2024 @ 9:16pm PST: Netflix is considering monetizing games. Hopefully, after they weigh the options they decide against it. Jury is way out on them being a viable gaming platform, because people think of Netflix and chill, movies, movies, TV, they don’t think of games and Netflix.

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