Netflix Games, the streaming giant’s new foray into the video game industry, is included at no additional charge with Netflix subscriptions. However, fewer than 1% of the company’s subscribers are actually taking advantage of the service. Per an analysis done by Apptopia for CNBC, out of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers, Netflix Games has only 1.7 million daily users.
Netflix has previously said that it expected Netflix Games would need time in order to become profitable. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings calls last year, Netflix COO Greg Peters told investors that the company was “going to be experimental and try a bunch of things.”
However, Netflix does not have a reputation for sticking with projects long-term if those projects don’t immediately strike gold. The company is often criticized for putting little effort into marketing shows and then canceling them only a season or two later. This has been especially true in the company’s animation department, where several high-profile projects (such as the adaptation of Jeff Smith’s critically-acclaimed comic Bone, the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic The Twits, and the Meghan Markle-created show Pearl, about a 12-year-old girl who is inspired by influential women throughout history) were axed before ever seeing release. Funding for Tudum, the company’s in-house fan blog, was also cut after only a few months.
These numbers come on the heels of the news that Netflix lost one million subscribers during the last quarter. The company has also recently made a string of baffling PR decisions (such as increasing subscription rates and cracking down on password sharing) that seem designed to drive subscribers into the arms of the company’s competitors.
Netflix Gaming is a mobile device-only gaming service, and per the official site, there are currently 26 titles to choose from. The company invested in bringing several successful indie titles, such as Into the Breach and Spiritfarer, to its gaming platform as exclusives. Additionally, it purchased development studio Next Games in order to continue expanding its library of games based on the hit Netflix title, Stranger Things.
Per Statista, mobile gaming makes up 57% of the global video game market, and the mobile gaming industry is valued at $25.2 billion in the US alone. These numbers seem to indicate that Netflix’s gamble on Netflix Games was a good one, however, the reality has yet to live up to expectations. Whether this dissonance is due to yet another bout of poor marketing on Netflix’s part or simply a mismatch of streaming audiences is still unknown. However, history would indicate that we should expect to see news of Netflix Games’ cancellation sooner rather than later.