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Netflix to Add Video Gaming as a Free Add-On for Subscribers

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It looks like we’re going to be glued to our smartphones a whole lot more! Who’s excited for more mobile gaming options?

Facing a potential collapse in subscriber growth, Netflix has announced plans to introduce gaming onto the platform for existing customers at no extra cost. The announcement came after the most recent reveal of results that showed a slowdown in new subscribers.

The streaming giant linked their sluggish growth to the lifting of Covid-19 lockdowns that has viewers spending less time at home, as well as the two-year disruption to filming that has led to a decrease in content options than before the pandemic.

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Results show that although Netflix has gained 5.5 million subscribers through the first six months of this year, the numbers indicate the weakest first-half performance since 2013 when the company was producing more original content as they branched out from only licensing existing TV series and movies.

Telegraphing this major addition last week, the company disclosed hiring veteran video game executive Mike Verdu to explore potential opportunities with this new rollout of offering video games that intends to be presented as a multi-year expansion.

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While Netflix announced they are still in the “early stages of further expanding into games,” the streamer’s offerings will first be “primarily focused on games for mobile devices.”

“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV,” the shareholder letter said. “We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering, and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games.”

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Netflix COO and chief product officer, Greg Peters, said the company’s goals for its gaming offerings would be to extend Netflix’s IP, create stand-alone games — some of which could be spawned into a series or film — and license games to help “increase the volume” of Netflix’s library.

“It’s a multiyear effort. We’re going to start relatively small. We’ll learn, we’ll grow,” Peters said. “Our subscription model yields some opportunities to focus on a set of game experiences that are currently underserved by the sort of dominant monetization models in games. We don’t have to think about ads, we don’t have to think about in-game purchases or other monetization, we don’t have to think about per-title purchases. Really, we can do what we’ve been doing on the movie and series side, which is just hyper, laser focused on delivering the most entertaining game experiences that we can.”

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In what looks to be a refocusing on mobile-first offerings, Netflix intends on making these new options available to users anywhere and anytime — a plan that has already been in the works since 2019.

“We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” the January 2019 shareholder letter said. “There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences. Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose. Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members.”

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“Instead of doing Xbox or Fortnite or YouTube or HBO or a long list, we want to win and provide a better experience: no advertising, on-demand, incredible content,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings noted.




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