Netflix Expands Gaming Horizons with New Game Controller App for iOS

Today marks another significant milestone for Netflix as the entertainment behemoth unveiled its new app, the “Netflix Game Controller.” This move, previewed last fall, represents the company’s keen interest in the expansive world of cloud gaming. The app, currently available in the App Store, facilitates the pairing of one’s phone with a TV, allowing users to revel in Netflix’s diverse game offerings on a more sizable screen. The exact titles and their official release dates on this platform, however, remain under wraps. The tantalizing teaser in the app’s description piques curiosity: “Coming soon to Netflix.”

Strategic Direction and Ambitions

  • Netflix’s foray into the gaming domain isn’t a sudden twist. As early as October 2022, Mike Verdu, Netflix’s VP of gaming, elucidated the company’s vision at the TechCrunch Disrupt event. He expressed Netflix’s active exploration of cloud gaming and announced the inception of a new gaming studio in Southern California. The venture is spearheaded by industry veteran Chacko Sonny, renowned for his work on the blockbuster game Overwatch at Blizzard Entertainment.
  • Netflix’s approach is unique. Verdu emphasized that their gaming service wouldn’t vie against heavyweights like PlayStation or Xbox. Instead, it’s an added perk for Netflix subscribers. “It’s a value add. We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement,” he remarked.
  • Drawing parallels with other cloud gaming ventures, such as the ill-fated Google Stadia, Verdu believed the downfall of such services lay in their business model, not the technology’s viability. In stark contrast, Netflix cleverly integrates the gaming experience into its subscription package, asking no additional fees.

Netflix’s Gaming Arsenal

  • Netflix’s gaming ambitions aren’t restricted to just a handful of titles. Since its gaming inception in November 2021, the platform boasts more than 50 titles, with an ambitious roadmap laid out for the future. The company has 40 games slated for a launch this year, with an impressive 16 developed in-house and an additional 70 in collaboration with partners.
  • Among the vast array of titles, notable games like Oxenfree II: Lost Signals have received widespread acclaim. The success of Oxenfree II even led to the game’s developer, Night School, joining the Netflix family as its maiden in-house studio.
  • Other eagerly anticipated titles include indie gems such as Storytellers, Paper Trail, and the enchanting Monument Valley series. Reports also suggest an Assassin’s Creed title and a port of the popular mobile game LEGO: Legacy Heroes Unboxed could be in the pipeline. Speculations are rife that these games might be compatible with the newly released controller app.

Functionality and User Experience

The Netflix Game Controller app, tailored for iOS users, presents an intuitive interface. Users can spot a directional button on the left of the iPhone’s screen, complemented by the familiar A, X, Y, and B action buttons on the right. While the gaming focus has been steadily climbing, Netflix hasn’t lost sight of its primary service. Recent data showcases an impressive addition of 5.9 million global subscribers in the last quarter, with the count soaring to 238.4 million. Such metrics not only vouch for Netflix’s prowess in the streaming domain but also highlight the enormous potential user base for its burgeoning gaming service.

What’s Next?

While the Netflix Game Controller app marks a significant leap, many questions remain. Details about game compatibility, the possibility of an Android counterpart, and the specifics of the pairing process are eagerly awaited. As of now, Netflix remains tight-lipped, heightening the anticipation among gaming and streaming enthusiasts worldwide.

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