Article by: Jenny McBean, Head of Gaming Insights at Bryter
Netflix aiming for entertainment domination
Netflix has been experimenting with gaming over the last few years, although it has largely gone under the radar. Now the tide could be turning as the recent announcements suggest Netflix are looking to evolve and expand their gaming offer; hiring big names from within the industry, with rumors of AAA games and cloud-streamed games coming soon.
Consumers don’t yet make the connection between Netflix and gaming
Netflix currently have around 70 mobile games included for free with the standard streaming subscription, however, only a very small minority (16%) of customers are currently playing them. In fact, only 44% of US/UK adults are even aware that you can play games through Netflix.
Q4. Were you aware that you could play games through Netflix? (Base: UK/US nat rep consumers n=800)
Netflix have already been making changes to help build awareness of their gaming endeavors – such as including games within the movie and TV selections in the app – but is this enough to actually convince customers to play? Alongside awareness, Netflix need to also demonstrate their credibility and capability in the gaming space.
Leveraging the power of TV/movie fandom
More and more brands are trying to establish themselves in the gaming space and to connect with gamers - from designer fashion brands, to fast food delivery services. When you look at revenue figures across the entertainment industries, it’s no surprise everyone wants a piece of the pie. The global gaming market value is predicted to reach over $320 Billion USD by 2026, at least three times as much as the music and movie industries. However, not every brand succeeds in this space. Even some of the world’s biggest tech companies have had their struggles with trying to compete in the gaming space, from Amazon’s Fire TV stick & game controller initiative, to Google’s failed cloud streaming project Google Stadia.
One big advantage Netflix has is the potential tie in with its popular TV shows/ movies. This kind of transmedia offering is becoming more popular, as consumers seek to dive deeper into their favourite franchises or universes, and experience them in different ways. Love is Blind is one of Netflix’s shows that was turned into its own mobile game – where players can experience the dating show ‘first-hand’ through an interactive story game. A clever way to continue engagement in between episodes or series.
Another good example is Netflix’s Queens Gambit. A TV series centered around the competitive world of chess, that perhaps on paper seemed like an unlikely hit but managed to reach record viewing figures. It took the rather mundane world of chess and turned it into something sassy and exciting, attracting a whole new audience. Leveraging the success of the show, Netflix then released the Queen’s Gambit Chess game – encouraging fans of the series to continue this new foray into the world of chess themselves.
But can Netflix stand out in a crowded mobile market?
With recent figures suggesting that Netflix is losing its dominance in the entertainment streaming market to the likes of Disney+, are these mobile games enough to retain – or even acquire - customers? Probably not as it stands.
Download figures for these Netflix games haven’t yet reached the highs of the shows they emulate. But it seems there is appetite for Netflix Games, with 3 in 4 Netflix users saying they’d love to play games based on their favorite shows.
Q5 How interested would you be in using Netflix Games to play mobile games in future?
Q7. Attitudes around Netflix Games (% who agree). (Base: UK/US Netflix users n=626)
However, this stated interest in playing mobile games through Netflix is far different from the actual proportion of users currently doing so. Here, it is key to understand the opportunities and motivations to actually encourage the behaviour change to start playing games through Netflix. Is it just lack of awareness, or is it based more on perceptions and opinions around Netflix mobile gaming.
Evolving to AAA gaming
Perhaps Netflix’s expansion to AAA games will be the magic weapon that will help it take back the top spot of the entertainment market. At Gamescom this year, Netflix had a huge presence, with immersive booths dedicated to its top shows like The Witcher, Wednesday and Squid Game, but also a big showcase of its upcoming TV series Rebel Moon. Netflix has already announced its plans for a Rebel Moon video game, which could act as Netflix’s big arrival into more AAA gaming content.
This is a clever move from Netflix, starting by doing what Netflix does best – great quality streaming content – to capture an audience and then encourage longer-term engagement by offering customers the chance to further explore in video game form. This seems like a natural bridge from streaming TV content, to streaming games, all in one place.
Q6 How interested would you be in using Netflix cloud gaming in future to play video games on your TV or computer?
(Base: UK/US Netflix users n=626, Non-users n=174)
One game alone is unlikely to suddenly transform Netflix’s identity into one of a gaming hub, so the projects and partnerships Netflix choose will be crucial. One bold partnership coming up in November 23 is the release of Football Manager 24 Mobile exclusively on Netflix. As a game with a very long history, naturally there have been mixed reactions to this collaboration from the community so far. It has the potential to open up the game to new audiences, as well as draw new Netflix users in, but the true impact will only be seen once it’s released.
Another factor Netflix will have to prove itself on is the quality of the games and the gameplay experience. While consumers are interested in the cloud gaming concept, they also have some concerns…
Q7. Attitudes around Netflix Games (% who agree). (Base: UK/US Gamers n=475)
The lines between different entertainment mediums are starting to blur, as consumers look to experience their favourite content in multiple ways.
The crossover of streaming content and gaming content gives Netflix credibility in the gaming space, as it seems almost like a natural progression. However, many big companies have tried and failed to establish themselves in gaming.
The big factor in Netflix’s gaming success is based on what AAA titles they have, and perhaps more importantly, their exclusive titles. Are console gamers going to give up their consoles to use Netflix Games instead? No, most likely not – but would gamers be willing to pay the monthly Netflix subscription to access exclusive titles? Potentially. Netflix Games could also act as a more accessible stepping stone into gaming, for those who don’t already own consoles.
The key for Netflix is to understand their potential audiences - their habits and motivations - and to shape the Netflix Games offer and its strategy around these.