Netflix is taking the next step in the rollout of Netflix Games with a global launch on Android devices.
Starting November 3, Netflix subscribers will be able to start playing a selection of games on the Netflix mobile app. At launch, the games will be available only to those playing on Android devices. Netflix says iOS support is “on the way”, although there’s no specific date just yet.
🎮📱 Let the Games Begin📱🎮Tomorrow, Netflix Games will start rolling out on the Netflix mobile app. First on Android, with iOS on the way.It’s early days, but we’re excited to start bringing you exclusive games, with no ads, no additional fees and no in-app purchases. pic.twitter.com/ofNGF4b8AtNovember 2, 2021
There are five games to choose from at launch: Stranger Things: 1984; Stranger Things 3: The Game; Shooting Hoops; Teeter Up; and Card Blast. If you’re an Android user that really can’t wait until November 3, it’s actually already possible to find the games on the Google Play Store, but you’ll still need a Netflix subscription to play.
In a blog post announcing the global rollout, Netflix explains that as Netflix Games is part of the Netflix subscription “there’s no ads, no additional fees and no in-app purchases” and Android users will find games to download in a dedicated section of the app.
The games are, Netflix says, “available in many of the languages we offer on service” so when you start playing it should default to the language preference you have on your Netflix profile. If your language isn’t available, the game’s language will default to English.
As for access, Netflix explains that “members will be able to play games on multiple mobile devices on the same account”. There is a device limit but Netflix doesn’t explicitly state what that is. You’ll know when you hit it, though, as it’ll warn you. Where you won’t find Netflix Games is on Kids profiles. “If you’ve set up a PIN to prevent kids from having access to adult profiles,” the post reads, “that same PIN will be required in order to log in to Netflix and play the game on a device.”
This isn’t Netflix Games’ first outing on Android devices; it’s just the next step in what seems like it’s going to be a careful and steady journey. It was only a couple of months ago that Netflix gave users in Poland the chance to try out Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3 on Android within the app before rolling out the tests to users in Italy and Spain.
Analysis: “Early days”
Netflix has been explicit about plans to push into gaming for months, yet the company is fairly insistent that the project is still in its “early days” and that it’s “just getting started.”
What can we expect further down the line? Well, in its blog post Netflix might be keen to emphasize that this is a humble offering but it's not hiding its hopes and ambitions for the future.
Those ambitions include building “a library of games that offers something for everyone”, ranging from casual experiences “you can start from scratch” to more immersive experiences that have you “dig deeper into your favorite stories”. "Just like our series, films and specials,” the post goes on to say, “we want to design games for any level of play and every kind of player, whether you’re a beginner or a lifelong gamer.” That’s a lot of appealing to do and it suggests plans for way more than just five games.
Anyone that’s delved into the world of movie or TV show tie-in games knows just how bad they can be. But they can also be good. When you just can't get enough of a world that you're watching, there's a lot to be said for the very particular way games allow you to jump in and experience it for yourself.
The current Netflix Games offering feels pretty sparse but Netflix's recent acquisition of Oxenfree developer, Night School, suggests there might be some more narratively engaging releases down the line.
There are a lot of great streaming services out there—Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, and Disney Plus among them—and they’re all vying to bring their subscribers TV shows and movies that make them want to keep their subscription rolling over. The competition is fierce, so it does make sense that Netflix is looking for a way to add value for its subscribers and give them more reasons to stay on its app. If you're on a flight but you're feeling too restless to watch your favorite TV show, why not just stay on the Netflix app and occupy your thumbs with its tie-in game?
As Netflix says, though: it's early days. It'll certainly be interesting to see where Netflix Games goes from here and whether or not it'll be able to grab the attention of as wide a range of subscribers as Netflix hopes.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.