Netflix Expansion Into Gaming Starts With Mobile But That's Just The Beginning

Netflix on Smartphone
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix confirmed it is indeed in the "early stages of further expanding into games," and discussed a little bit what that will entail. The company did not go into great detail, but it did say that games added to the mix will be available at no extra cost to subscribers, likening the effort to adding new programming genres.

"We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV. Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series," Netflix stated.

That is great news, if not a bit surprising when you consider that gaming is huge industry and not just another film category like romance, comedy, drama, and so forth. Some estimates peg gaming as growing to nearly $180 billion by the end of this year.

That potential figure is boosted somewhat by the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 hit, it was often reported that gaming was bigger than movies and music, and even North American sports. We're skeptical that Netflix won't eventually charge a separate fee for games, but at least initially, it will be another perk to retain and drawn in new subscribers.

As to what type of games, Netflix said in its letter to shareholders (PDF) that it is looking at mobile to kick things off.

"Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices," Netflix said. "We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games."

Reading between the lines, it seems Netflix wants to test the waters on mobile, and could expand more broadly in the future. We're sure there will be lots of data crunching and analyzing that goes into the effort and any future decisions, but it's not hard to envision Netflix making a more aggressive run at gaming in general, with services like NVIDIA's GeForce Now proving it can be done.

While not mentioned, Netflix might be considering a PlayStation tie-in of some sort. Steve Moser, editor-in-chief at The Tape Drive, did some data mining in the Netflix app and found artwork for Sony's DualSense wireless controllers, as well as Ghost of the Tsushima, which for the time being is a PlayStation exclusive. So it appears that something more is brewing beyond a play in mobile.