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Why less than 1% of Netflix subscribers downloading games is "not a bad start"

Sensor Tower tells that company's main challenge is ramping up release schedule and publishing on other platforms

Despite the fact that less than 1% of Netflix's subscribers have downloaded the company's games, a Sensor Tower analyst emphasised that Netflix is only just getting started with its video games offering.

According to figures from analytics firm Apptopia (via CNBC) shared last week, Netflix's mobile games have been downloaded over 23 million times worldwide by an average of 1.7 million users.

That would represent less than 1% of its 221 million subscribers, CNBC noted, adding that the streaming giant is hoping to bring its catalogue from 24 titles currently to 50 by the end of the year, which would double its offering.

Back in June, Sensor Tower reported that Netflix mobile titles had been downloaded 13 million times globally. Talking to today, Sensor Tower mobile insights strategist for EMEA Craig Chapple said that it's "important to remember that Netflix is right at the start of its mobile games strategy."

"Sensor Tower data shows that downloads for mobile games published by the company only really started ramping up in November," he added.

"While it’s been steadily making a few acquisitions and publishing some existing and new titles, it’s really going to take time to grow the business. Those studios will need time to develop new games that have a chance of being successful, and Netflix has only really just begun announcing games based on its large IP from the firm’s TV and film offerings."

"Downloads for mobile games published by [Netflix] only really started ramping up in November"Craig Chapple, Sensor Tower

Chapple highlighted that one of the biggest challenges Netflix is facing at the moment is that its games are not available on other platforms.

"The account registration requirement creates a barrier for consumers who are used to quick and easy access to F2P titles on the App Store and Google Play," he continued. "Netflix also hasn’t historically conducted its marketing operations like other companies, so we’re not seeing huge, expensive user acquisition campaigns that really propel the top mobile titles to garner millions of instals over both short and extended periods of time. So it's operating under a different strategy here right now.

"In this context, I don’t think it’s a bad start at all for Netflix. The challenge will be continuing to ramp up its release schedule and provide ongoing support for the games side of the business, as well as publishing engaging titles that aren’t available elsewhere on mobile. If Netflix can do that, then combined with its very high engagement rate with subscribers of its TV and film content, there’s a lot of potential there. But this isn’t going to happen overnight."

Chapple also said that "games could become another important touchpoint for user engagement" on Netflix but reminded that being successful in one area (streaming in Netflix's case) doesn't guarantee "sure-fire success" with an added games offering.

"Historically there have been hugely popular platforms that have added instant games or storefronts to their offerings that haven’t been wildly successful," he said. "But I think the difference with Netflix is that it has that all important IP that could cut through."

Netflix has been ramping up its games efforts lately, acquiring three studios – Oxenfree developer Night School Studio in September 2021, Finnish mobile developer Next Games and Boss Fight Entertainment in March 2022.

Earlier this year, the firm named former PlayStation senior director of corporate strategy Roberto Barrera as its new head of gaming strategy, planning and analysis.

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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