After signaling its intent to expand into cloud gaming last autumn, Netflix has launched a new application that will soon enable its subscribers to play games on their television screens. This app, named the “Netflix Game Controller,” allows users to utilize their mobile phones as controllers by connecting them to their TVs, facilitating gameplay for the games accessible through Netflix’s gaming service.
Although the app has appeared on the App Store, there is currently no information regarding which of Netflix’s games will become available on larger screens or when this will happen. The app’s description simply offers a teaser with the words: “Coming soon to Netflix.”
When approached for comment, Netflix chose not to divulge any additional details concerning its plans or the timeline for implementation.
However, Netflix has previously stated its intention to expand beyond mobile gaming. In October 2022, Netflix’s Vice President of Gaming, Mike Verdu, announced at a event that the company was exploring the concept of cloud gaming. He also mentioned the establishment of a new gaming studio in Southern California, headed by Chacko Sonny, the former executive producer of Overwatch at Blizzard Entertainment.
Verdu clarified that Netflix did not intend to compete directly with PlayStation or Xbox, positioning their gaming initiative as an augmentation rather than a replacement for traditional consoles. He stated, “It’s a value add. We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement. It’s a completely different business model. The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are.”
While other cloud gaming services like Google’s Stadia faced challenges, Netflix believed these issues stemmed from business models, not technology. Verdu noted that Stadia’s games were enjoyable, but the business itself was unsustainable.
In contrast, Netflix bundles free games within the cost of its streaming subscription. As the company continued to introduce more games to its service, Netflix’s VP of External Games, Leanne Loombe, emphasized the ambition for cloud gaming. Loombe stated, “We do believe that cloud gaming will enable us to provide that easy access to games on any screen. Our overall vision is that our members can play games on any Netflix device they have,” clearly encompassing TV screens.
Around the same time, Netflix announced plans for 40 game launches in the current year, with 16 titles in development in-house and an additional 70 in collaboration with partners. Since venturing into gaming in November 2021, Netflix has released over 50 titles.
In March, reports emerged of Netflix developing an iPhone-based game controller.
In recent months, the focus on Netflix’s gaming initiative has diminished as market attention shifted to how Netflix’s efforts to curb password-sharing would impact its financial performance. Despite this, Netflix added 5.9 million global subscribers in the latest quarter, reaching a total of 238.4 million. This suggests the success of the crackdown, while also indicating a growing potential user base for Netflix’s cloud gaming service once it becomes available.
Currently, the new Netflix Gaming Controller app is only accessible on iOS. As it is relatively new, the app does not yet appear in the listings or rankings of Netflix’s apps and games on data.ai, a market intelligence firm.