Saturday, May 25, 2024

Netflix may bring its gaming service to TVs, using iPhone as controller

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Netflix is working on a feature that will bring its games to smart TVs and allow players to use their iPhone as a controller, reports from Bloomberg and MacRumors‘ Steve Moser said on Wednesday.

The move would take Netflix’s gaming service beyond only smartphones and tablets, giving subscribers more ways to play. And for iPhone owners, it also eliminates the need to buy a dedicated controller, making it more likely that people would give its games a go.

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Both reports are based on specific code found within Netflix’s iOS app that says: “A game on your TV needs a controller to play. Do you want to use this phone as a game controller?” Availability for Android users isn’t mentioned in either report, though it’s likely it would come at some point.

It’s not clear if and when Netflix will release the feature to its global community of around 230 million subscribers, but the plan fits with the company’s recent comment that it wants to make games “playable on every Netflix device that you have.”

Netflix launched its gaming service in 2021, though various reports have suggested it’s struggled to gain traction among subscribers to its video streaming service. Data from an app analytics firm last year, for example, said Netflix games had been downloaded just over 23 million times and played by 1.7 million subscribers daily, equalling around 1% of its global subscriber base.

But in its determination to give its community more value for money in the face of growing competition from rival streaming services, Netflix is set to double down on its gaming efforts with the release of 40 more titles before the end of this year, according to a news release shared by company executive Leanne Loombe last week.

Loombe also said that Netflix has 70 games in development with various partners and 16 more being prepared by its in-house game studios.

The plan is to release new games “every month,” with subscribers offered “indie darlings, award-winning hits, RPGs, narrative adventures, puzzle games, and everything in between.”

Whether the addition of more games to its platform helps boost engagement remains to be seen, but bringing the service to TVs would surely persuade at least some folks to try out more of the offerings when they’re not binge-watching movies and TV shows.

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