Netflix has said its current scale and investment in games is “very, very, very small” – but it is confident it will grow over time with “better title selection”.
Netflix announced its latest financial results last week, and as part of the investor call that followed, coCEO Greg Peters outlined Netflix’s near and midterm games strategy in public for the first time.
“Games is a huge entertainment opportunity,” he began. “We’re talking about $140bn worth of consumer spend on games outside of China and outside of Russia. And from a strategic perspective, we believe that we can build games into a strong content category, leveraging our current core film and series by connecting members, especially members that are fans of specific IPs, with games that they will love.”
Peters also suggested that through its IP and recommendation engine Netflix is in a good position to solve mobile’s user acquisition and discovery troubles.
“We’re essentially sidestepping the biggest issue that the mobile games market has today, which is how do you cost-effectively acquire new players,” he continued. “So that’s the real proposition.”
He also said that increasing “engagement”, “retention” and “value delivered” through games is part of ”one extra layer” to the Netflix offering. It is also “seeing performance metrics that support that these fundamental strategic hypotheses are sound,” said Peters.
He acknowledged, however, that Netflix’s “main challenge” in games is scale. “Our current scale and frankly, our current investment levels are both very, very, very small relative to our overall content spend and engagement,” he said.
“So now our job is to incrementally scale to the place where games have a material impact on the business. We’ve got ambitious plans there. We want to really grow our engagement by many multiples of where it is today over the next handful of years.”
He also stressed the importance of signing the right games for the audience – perhaps reflecting that some of the games on the service have not resonated as well.
“Looking a layer deeper at the title level, some titles are really working for our members, and they’re working for our business. If we can do more of those, we know we can scale into that proposition. We’ve got to do that through better title selection based on everything that we’re learning. We’ve got to do it on better product features to maximise connection with the audience for any given title. And we have to do it by gradually improving consumer awareness.”
Peters later namechecked games like Dead Cells and Football Manager Mobile 2024 plus owned IP like Money Heist and Virgin River as forthcoming game highlights. He also re-iterated that the company has seen slow, steady growth like this previously when entering new markets.
“This trajectory is not dissimilar from what we’ve seen before when we’ve launched a new region, Latin America or a country like Japan where traditional Western media companies have struggled,“ he added.
“We’ve got to crawl, walk, run and we build it…but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity to build a long-term centre of value and more entertainment for our members.”
Fellow coCEO Ted Sarandos added that games is “a great experience for the super fan to get themselves in the universe in-between seasons of a show.”
Netflix has been hiring games talent since mid-2021, and more recently has been building a team in LA to make a live service triple-A game. It also recently set up a second LA studio to create social party games while continuing to add more talent to its ranks.
Our recent analysis using Appmagic data suggested that Netflix games have been downloaded around 82m times since games were added to the service nearly two years ago.