Gaming: Is Netflix going “all in”?


For the past week, rumors have been piling up about streaming giant Netflix making a dedicated entry into the lucrative gaming business. (Among others, Reuters reported)

So far, Netflix has been involved with games on a more experimental level. With “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” for example, the streaming pioneer has already made some headway toward its longed-for goal: “interaction with viewers.” With the 90-minute spin-off of the cult series about virtual realities and their effects on human coexistence, which is particularly popular with gamers, Netflix hit the right target group. In Bandersnatch, the viewer could choose from several possible courses of action for the protagonists at certain points and thus determine how the plot would continue. Despite some mixed reviews, Bandersnatch was a complete success for the corporation.

A text by Michael Trier

Popular themes extended into other media

Then there were games for popular series like Stranger Things. Nicely packaged in a retro pixel look, neatly produced, but rather uninspiring in terms of gameplay. You could get them from the Apple App or Google Play Store. In the other direction, there were and are (measured by the scale of games film adaptations) elaborate live-action and animated series for established and beloved game brands: Castlevania, Resident Evil and League of Legends (some still in production) are good examples.

Expansion of gaming as a strategic business segment

And into this situation now bursts the news from Reuters that Netflix is looking for an “executive to oversee its expansion into videogames.” This fits perfectly with the booming gaming market in the last two years. Moreover, the competitive pressure in the streaming market has increased immensely. With the appearance of Apple TV+ and Disney+ alongside perennial rivals Amazon Prime (freshly strengthened by the acquisition of MGM) and HBO Max (Sky Atlantic), as well as numerous smaller special offers, some of which are offshoots of TV channels such as Pro 7, it is gradually becoming crowded in the streaming universe that was once almost infinite for Netflix.

Is the Netflix game subscription coming?

Expanding the business field to include a gaming service seems like the logical step – especially when you consider Netflix’s business and infrastructure. A gaming flat rate like Apple Arcade seems most likely to us, given Netflix’s business model. However, Apple’s offering is not a true streaming service: the games have to be downloaded and installed locally on a smartphone, tablet or Mac. Another special feature of Apple Arcade: The offer is priced very fairly at 4.95 Euros as a true flat rate without any further in-game monetization like subscriptions or in-game stores. Especially since it contains carefully curated titles, some of which are of high quality, that will entice even “more than casual” gamers to play a round every now and then. However, Apple Arcade is only available for Apple devices, and their market share is rather small, at least in this country. This is a good opportunity for Netflix, especially in the casual market, which established cloud gaming offerings from the (rather) core area, such as Nvidia’s fabulous Geforce Now, Microsoft’s Xbox Gamepass, or PS Plus from Sony, do not reach as perfectly as the Google Play Store and the Apple AppStore.

For us as gaming fans, every additional offer means more pressure towards fair prices. For us as an agency and consultant, every thriving market is a welcome new opportunity. In this double sense, we are in any case mightily excited about further developments.