Netflix will offer over 80 games to its subscribers by 2024

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Netflix is slowly but steadily building a curated gaming catalog — but the failure of Google Stadia means you can’t break through the industry just by throwing money.

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Published on Dec 15, 2023

Just in time for the holiday season, Netflix is adding Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition to its growing roster of video games. Having 86 games available by year’s end with nearly 90 more titles in development, the streamer plans to build a curated collection of successful indie titles and mega-hits of yesteryears in efforts to become a global force in gaming.

It’s been nearly two years since Netflix began its push into the lucrative video game market. The decision was met with valid criticism — since companies like Google had failed to break through and had recently given up on designing their own games. Netflix’s efforts, however, weren’t as ambitious. “Netflix doesn’t make a lot of big bets,” the streamer’s VP of games Mike Verdu told Axios. “The company’s been patient around those bets and put the work in to get it right.”

Game offerings were sparse in the beginning, with Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3: The Game seeming no more than promotional material for the show. However, Netflix has since built two in-house game studios and acquired four others, including Oxenfree developer Night School. The streamer has also experimented with cloud gaming as it continues to offer games — all mobile — to its subscribers at no extra cost. These subscribers, however, remain unbothered.

A report from last year found that less than one percent of Netflix’s then-221 million subscribers interacted with its gaming catalog on a daily basis. The total number of downloads for those games was about 23.3 million — easily dismissed since the streamer isn’t running a major marketing campaign around the push.

Initially fiddling with interactive titles, the streamer has since gone to offer acclaimed games like Monument Valley, while remaining committed to titles based on non-scripted shows like Love is Blind and Too Hot to Handle. The company has more than 10 games in development in-house, Axios reports, which includes a previously announced AAA PC game at Netflix’s Lost Angeles game studio — described as “Netflix’s first generation of internally developed original games.”

For all its bravado, one can’t help but wonder if Netflix’s success weighs upon whether people are willing to subscribe to a streamer just to get some extra games (free of in-app purchases) on the side. Google looked to achieve something similar with Stadia — liberating AAA titles from high-end consoles and PCs, but never managed to gather a respectable following. It’s an unpredictable industry where you can’t just throw money to make the new World of Warcraft, and many end up realizing the same after burning through millions of dollars.

Netflix’s push into gaming is about diversifying revenue streams beyond its core business of streaming TV shows and movies. With games, Netflix looks to offer a unique value proposition where you stick with the streamer for most of your entertainment “urges.” For things to work out, the company needs a standout: something akin to a new Mario or Zelda.