Netflix says the cloud will let it expand beyond mobile games

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By Aprilia Reen

A screenshot from the video game Hades.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Image: Supergiant Games

As Netflix’s foray into cloud gaming expands, so, too, will the kinds of games the company offers. “We feel like there is a real big opportunity with cloud to create a certain type of game experience that really is tailored to Netflix on TV,” says Leanne Loombe, Netflix’s head of external games.

Netflix’s cloud gaming efforts are still very early and follow nearly two years of releasing games exclusively on mobile. Right now, only two titles are available as part of a cloud beta test on TVs and PCs, including Oxenfree. But as the service grows to include more titles, Netflix says that the kinds of games offered will differ based on platform — meaning there will eventually be titles on Netflix designed to play only on your television or PC and not a smartphone. No specifics were announced but think console-style games that don’t translate well to a touchscreen.

“Changing based on platform will absolutely happen when we start to expand out the cloud service into more regions and bring more games,” explains Loombe. “Those games will be different creatively to the mobile games that we’re making. Sometimes the games we launch on Netflix will be across mobile and TV and PC through the cloud. And sometimes there’ll be a cloud game that’s playable on TV and it will be really tailored to that experience.”

The news makes sense given that Netflix has been investing in the blockbuster gaming space. The company started hiring PC game developers in 2022, and this year, it added Bungie veteran Joseph Staten as creative director. The timeline isn’t clear, but given how early Netflix’s cloud gaming efforts are, it’ll likely be some time before we see any releases specifically designed for TV or PC play.

It’s also unclear right now if Netflix will be attempting any cloud-specific features like Google did with its failed Stadia service, such as the ability to share game-specific worlds or custom scenarios using only a URL.

Once there are platform-specific games on the service, Loombe says that Netflix will be able to utilize its algorithm to ensure that it’s presenting players with games they can actually play — so you won’t get recommended a PC game if you don’t have the hardware, for instance. “I think that’s going to really help from a discoverability perspective, because everybody’s experience is then tailored and we don’t have to worry too much about trying to explain every single detail around which games are where and what platform you can play on,” she says. “Because it really is the personalization system that will help with that.”

Despite the cloud push, Netflix hasn’t slowed down its efforts in the mobile gaming space. At its Geeked Week event this past weekend, the company announced a number of titles, including the mobile debut of indie darling Hades. Previous reports have suggested that despite these efforts, not many Netflix users are actually playing the games being offered as part of their subscription. The company hasn’t shared any specific numbers in terms of users, but Loombe says that Netflix is satisfied with its progress in games over the last two years.

“Based on where we’re at, we’re very, very happy with how many members are playing games today,” she says. “That scale and that investment is relative to the amount of members playing. So, as with any new business, as we continue to scale over time, we expect more members to play over time as well. And the trajectory that we’re seeing is something that we’re very happy about.”

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