After spending some time with smaller phone games, Netflix is finally ramping up its testing of streaming games on TVs for its subscription service. Undergoing a limited test release first in the UK and Canada, the first two games of Oxenfree 2 and Molehew’s Mining Adventure look to test the waters and work out potential bugs. It’s an important step for the company that made-at-home television and movie streaming a household activity, and it’s one with more challenges than meets the eye.
The Importance of Diversification
While Netflix has long been the leader in online streaming services, its dominance of the market is fading. Competitors like Hulu and HBOMax have been working tirelessly to improve their libraries and user experiences, and with more shows heading to other networks, Netflix can’t afford to rest on its laurels.
As the oldest name in the streaming market, Netflix needed to pivot. The company is no stranger to this idea, having once made the titanic shift from mailing DVDs to offering its services via online streaming. Going beyond this point is untested waters which meant Netflix had to try something new.
The average age of game enthusiasts in 2023 is 35 years old, with many players owning their own homes, playing games, and subscribing to Netflix services. With the popularity of gaming always growing, Netflix saw its position as a launching pad to add widely available games to its library, and it could be onto something. A broad level of accessibility was a powerful tool in Netflix’s video arsenal, and it could also be a key feature in its approach to gaming.
Diversification of access is hardly a new concept in online business either, as the online casino market has demonstrated for years. In online casinos, games like slots, blackjack, and craps used to be confined to desktop systems. Once smartphones became popular, online casinos pivoted, adding access to machines everybody had in their pockets. Since then, mobile access has become the biggest part of the online casino experience, and this is a concept Netflix wants to mirror as it adds games to its TV lineup.
Building for the Future
Game streaming has seen experimentation before, but it’s often overpromised and misunderstood. Google illustrated a famous example of this idea, as its Stadia crashed and burned within a few years of launch. Netflix appears to be taking a more measured approach, where it’s targeting slower-paced and less demanding titles as the foundation of its experiences.
By taking this approach, Netflix will be able to offer its games over a wider range of TVs, while also mitigating the ever-present problem of latency (signal delay). Being careful and not overextending could be exactly what the company needs to create a positive reputation and avoid overpromising like so many that came before.
Should Netflix succeed in its implementation of game-streaming services, others in the video-streaming business will likely follow in its footsteps. Because delivering real-time interactive content can be much more challenging than proving video streams, the success of any of these imitators would be just as questionable. Whatever the result, it’s difficult to argue against more choices for consumers, especially if existing video libraries are continuing to split between the big streaming services.
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