Netflix built its foundation on streamlined DVD rentals and, eventually, on tepid “prestige” TV series that people talk about for a week before forgetting they ever existed in the first place. Now, amid a rare financial stagnation, Netflix plans to commit hard to games, per a new report in The Washington Post.
Earlier this week, Netflix said it lost 200,000 subscribers over the first three months of the year. That news, alongside a forecasted further loss of 2 million subscribers, caused its stock to drop by a staggering 35 per cent — the company’s biggest drop in nearly 20 years, according to Bloomberg.
The Post, which spoke to “a source familiar with the company’s thinking,” reports that Netflix plans to make 50 games available before the end of the year. Among the crop is a mobile game based on Exploding Kittens, the popular if somewhat sadistic card game about kittens who explode that may or may not involve alcohol depending on who you play with. Netflix will also produce a show.
Typically, Netflix’s foray into video games has been about licensing IP or adapting wildly popular games to moderate success. Arcane, an animated series based on League of Legends, got off to an absolute rip-roaring start. (A second season is planned but does not have a release window.) Its tremendous Castlevania series recently wrapped up a successful four-season run, with a sequel series on the way. And, of course, there’s the cultural behemoth that is The Witcher. Two live-action seasons and an animated movie in, plus another live-action film on the way, it shows no signs of slowing down. Dota: Dragon’s Blood also exists.
Netflix has also followed in the footsteps of the video game industry’s biggest trend du jour — wholesale acquisitions of smaller companies — and started scooping up game development studios. The most notable one so far is that of Oxenfree dev Night School Studios, which Netflix acquired last September. The studio’s next game, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, is planned for release sometime this year for Switch, PlayStation, and PC.
Obviously, the streaming giant’s plans for a major push into games were set in motion well before loss figures were posted this week. And the declining subscriber figures can be chalked up to a number of factors, including the still-ongoing pandemic and the proliferation of competing streaming services like HBO Max and Paramount+ (the only network willing to show Master Chief’s arse). But the message here is clear: There’s a shit ton of money in games, and the non-gaming tech giants are starting to wise up to it.
Representatives for Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Kotaku.