Two months after launching mobile games to all of its members, Netflix is looking to double down on gaming: The company told investors Thursday that it wants to expand its portfolio of games “across both casual and core gaming genres.” Recent job offers suggest that this could include both live services games as well as an expansion to PC and console gaming, and the company's COO hinted at major licensing deals ahead.
Since launching on Android and iOS last November, Netflix has published a total of 10 mobile games, including titles like Stranger Things 3: The Game and Bowling Ballers. “It’s still very early days but we’re pleased with our progress,” the company said in its letter to investors Thursday. This year, Netflix wants to “continue to program a breadth of game types to learn what [its] members enjoy most,” it said.
Netflix COO Greg Peters said during the company’s earnings call Thursday afternoon that the company was “generally seeing good growth” with the games it has published thus far, but also hinted at far bigger ambitions. Part of that strategy will be to build games related to the company’s in-house IP, something Peters called “a huge long-term, multi-year opportunity.”
Peters also suggested that the company might write some big checks for established titles in the meantime. “We are open to licensing large game IP that people will recognize,” he said. “I think you will see some of that happen over the year to come.”
While those remarks were short on details, recent Netflix job listings do suggest much bigger ambitions. Two weeks ago, the company began looking for a “head of live services” to “help deliver the next generation of video games to a worldwide audience.”
Live service games are games that regularly get updated with new content, with some of the most popular examples including Fortnite, Apex: Legends and Overwatch. The goal of these types of games is to keep players engaged over long periods of time, making them a great match for a subscription service looking to reduce churn.
Possible applicants to the job are being told that they are expected to “deeply understand the live service driven game category on various platforms, delivering strong competitive analysis of game designs and live service programs that generate excellent, long term player engagement.”
Interestingly, the job listing also mentions that the company wants to offer its members an “optimal subscriber experience, however they choose to play.” While Netflix’s gaming efforts are thus far limited to mobile, other job posts suggest the company's interested in bringing titles to additional platforms.
A head of strategic partnerships will be tasked with building out “the expansion of [the company’s] distribution strategy for [its] subscribers to access [its] games where they want to play, and can have the optimal play experience.” And if that were too veiled, the company is also looking for a video game tech artist who ideally has “shipped three or more console or PC games.” Bonus points if the candidate has “experience programming for modern consoles.”
This expansion of its game initiative comes at a crucial time for Netflix: The company has seen its subscriber growth slow down significantly following the early months of the pandemic; after adding 37 million new subscribers in 2020, Netflix only grew its customer base by 18 million subscribers in 2021. Netflix forecast only 2.5 million new subscribers for Q1 of 2022, leading to its share pricing falling as much as 20% in after-hours trading.