The big picture: Netflix announced that it's starting the first public tests of its foray into gaming. Subscribers in Poland can currently try out two games on Android at no additional cost. This is undoubtedly a small first step, but also a clue as to how Netflix plans to eventually build its gaming side up to scale.
A tweet from Netflix's official "NetflixGeeked" account made the announcement that the games Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3 are available to Android users who have Netflix subscriptions in Poland, with no ads or in-app purchases. "It’s very, very early days and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the months ahead, but this is the first step," Netflix writes.
Last month Netflix confirmed that its first steps into video games would be mobile and wouldn't cost anything extra on top of the current streaming subscription. The company plans to treat games as a new category like the movies and TV shows it already produces. Netflix may only be testing out mobile games now, but last month some data mining in the Netflix app did turn up information relating to the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller and Sony's own Ghost of Tsushima.
Let’s talk Netflix and gaming.— Netflix Geeked (@NetflixGeeked) August 26, 2021
Today members in Poland can try Netflix mobile gaming on Android with two games, Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3. It’s very, very early days and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the months ahead, but this is the first step. https://t.co/yOl44PGY0r
Earlier this month, TradeSmith, looking at Netflix's job openings, speculated the company is already moving towards trying to build its own game studios as opposed to buying them. Job listings show Netflix is already trying to recruit for a development studio. "This strategy matters because there isn’t a threat that the company needs to issue new debt or take a hit by purchasing a company and eating into its cash position," TradeSmith said.
Netflix's opening for a producer, however, does indicate it wants to work with external studios and continue to license out its own properties to other developers, like it did with Stranger Things 3 developer BonusXP.
Amazon has famously struggled to get into gaming. Its upcoming MMO New World is finally about to enter open beta, but this comes after many more failures in the company's gaming initiative. Netflix's tests with mobile games indicates it might be planning to start small instead of trying to build AAA games right out of the gate.