Since the launch of its mobile games offering for members seven months ago, Netflix has released a total of 23 titles. The streamer is debuting its game Queen’s Gambit later this year and has announced plans to develop more games based on the popular Netflix IP – including Shadow and Bone, Too Hot to Handle and Money Heist – and a unique Exploding Kittens franchise plan that will bring both a TV series and a new version of the hit mobile game to the platform. Despite these splashy announcements, Netflix hasn’t yet given many large-scale details about its gaming future.
But part of the streamer’s mobile gaming strategy right now is not disclosing its strategy.
“We started last November so just a handful of months and we’re still intentionally keeping things a little bit quiet because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what’s actually going to resonate with our members, what games people are going to play want to play,” Leanne Loombe, Netflix’s head of external gaming, said Monday during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival. “So it’s really important that we have some time to build on that.”
Loombe, which also included some Netflix game developers and creators, said that part of the experiment, which lasted more than six months, was also “trying different avenues of discoverability,” noting that they chose Android devices to do it had create an actual games tab while the iOS app sees Netflix mobile games in a row.
“We want to make sure there’s a game on Netflix for every single one of our members, whether they’re someone who plays games every day, or someone who’s brand new to games or wants to try something like Netflix,” Loombe said. “A very accessible, broadly appealing game, something that people can easily start playing with. And starting with mobile is a really great way for us to ensure that we can easily get games into people’s hands and remove some of the friction that might exist on other platforms.”
Netflix plans to double its mobile games by the end of the year, a lofty goal as the company reassesses things amid layoffs and falling stock prices caused by a decline in subscribers that isn’t expected to be hit harder until the second quarter. But while much is uncertain at the moment, games appear to be a key aspect of Netflix’s future.
“It’s still very, very new, but one of the things we want to do is make sure games are a really valuable part of our members’ subscription,” Loombe said. “So there is no advertising, there are no additional costs. Every single game is free with your subscription and there is no monetization, which is a really great thing for developers from a creative point of view. You can really focus on making great games and not worry about making games that just drive revenue and money.”
But the games have to be good for Netflix – which isn’t yet an easily definable trait for Loombe and her team.
“Still figuring out what a great game looks like on Netflix? What does this performance look like? What does success look like? And we can start using that data to sort of build our strategies into next year,” she said. “Really find out what our members expect from our games and how we can further support and evolve that to make these great games.”