Jon Bitner

August 5, 2021, 1:42 AM


6 min read

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Netflix recently confirmed it’s jumping into the world of gaming. Starting next year, you’ll gain access to a whole suite of ad-free games for your smartphone – although Netflix hopes to bring the service to Xbox and PlayStation at a later date.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Netflix Gaming, but we do know it’s got some stiff competition. Apple Arcade, Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass already offer an enticing package for mobile gaming. If Netflix wants to stand out in this oversaturated market, here’s what it needs to do.

1. Come Free With Your Current Subscription

Netflix is already off to a good start. We don’t know much about how its gaming service will work, but it looks like it’ll be included with your current subscription – no hidden fees or additional monthly payments required. Not only will this automatically give millions of viewers access to a library of games, but it could entice new subscribers now that they’re getting more for their money.

2. Offer Worthwhile Exclusives

Every good console has one or two killer titles that sell the system. Nintendo has Mario and Zelda, Sony has God of War and Microsoft has Halo. If Netflix wants the world to take its gaming ventures seriously, it’ll need to throw down an excellent, exclusive game that you can only experience on its platform.

3. Include Hit Titles

Credit: Stardew Valley

If Netflix can’t put together its own exclusives, the next best thing would be adding popular titles already on the market. Since Netflix is starting with mobile – and most of the popular mobile games are already free – this might be challenging. Still, including games such as Stardew Valley, Downwell and Reigns would go a long way towards convincing gamers that Netflix is serious about its position in the industry.

4. Feature a Deep Catalog

Hit titles and exclusives might open the door, but a deep catalog is what will keep Netflix Gaming from stalling out after a few weeks. From obscure indies to your usual assortment of casual puzzlers, offering a variety of game experiences is the key to keeping subscribers happy.

5. Stay an Ad-Free Experience

Since Netflix Gaming will first be available on mobile devices, it would be a mistake to fall into the usual mobile trap of running ads during gameplay. You’re already paying a subscription for these games – stopping the game for a brief commercial would interrupt the experience and immediately come off as a quick cash grab.

Thankfully, Netflix is well aware of this perception. As of now, there are no plans to include ads within its gaming catalog.

6. Minimize Lag While Streaming

One of the biggest question marks surrounding Netflix Gaming is whether you’ll be streaming games to your device or downloading them. Seeing as Netflix is one of the streaming leaders of the world, many people assume these titles will be streamed remotely to your smartphone, which means Netflix will have to leverage its servers to ensure there’s no lag during gameplay.

7. Give Users the Option to Download Games

Even if you can stream games, it’d be great to have the option to download them to play while offline. Similar to how you can load up on TV shows before a long flight, the ability to install a few “Netflix Original Games” and play them when you don’t have an internet connection would be a welcome feature. It would also help folks who don’t have a powerful internet connection at home – or anyone with a data cap that carefully monitors what they stream.

8. Work on Any Device

Netflix hopes to bring games to more platforms than mobile, and that seems like a smart move. Beyond PlayStation and Xbox, however, it would be great if subscribers could play games on the same devices they stream from. Whether that’s an app built into a TV, Roku, Chromecast or an old tablet, giving players the option to game on screens they already own would give Netflix Gaming versatility to rival Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia.

9. Include Controller Support

Credit: miHoYo

Plenty of mobile games offer a bonafide triple-A gaming experience – look no further than Genshin Impact for a prime example. However, that popular game launched without controller support, and fans weren’t too happy. Native Bluetooth controller support would go a long way towards establishing itself as a place where “core gamers” are welcome.

10. Forgo Terrible Tie-In Games

Whether it’s a Stranger Things detective game or a Love dating sim, Netflix Gaming needs to be more than a way to promote its Originals. Instead, it’d be great to see new IP created just for the gaming service.

11. Stay on Top of Updates

In order to keep players coming back for more – and for the gaming community to trust Netflix – we’ll need to see a lot of updates. Weekly game drops, community events and basic software updates would go a long way towards showing everyone Netflix is looking at games as more than a quick way to bolster its userbase.

12. Incorporate Player Feedback

Alexander Shatov via Unsplash

If there’s one thing players love, it’s knowing their voice is heard by the people behind their favorite games. Implementing feedback and having a transparent development process helps foster a community that cares – and with so many alternatives, Netflix will need to win over as many fans as it can.

13. Offer a Great Social Component

Gaming has quickly become a social activity. All of today’s biggest names in gaming give players an easy way to connect with friends before jumping into the action. Netflix users already have profiles set up with their favorite shows, so why not let them do the same with games? If Netflix takes it just one step further, we’ll have a robust multiplayer offering that makes it easy to stay in touch with all your friends.

14. Allow Cross-Play With Other Services

Netflix might include games that are already on the market. If that’s the case, then crossplay is a must. It’s unclear how many players will check out a games catalog on Netflix, and any multiplayer titles will need a large player base to succeed. The only way to make sure that happens is by enabling cross-play with other players on mobile, console or PC.

15. Feature a Simple User Interface

mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Seeing as most users are more than happy with Netflix’s current UI, this one should be easy to knock out of the park. Finding exactly what game you want to play shouldn’t be a struggle and – combined with suggestions based on your play history – there should always be something on the screen you’re excited to try next.

16. Temper Expectations

The most important thing Netflix needs to do in order for its gaming ventures to succeed? Temper expectations. Netflix Gaming isn’t meant to go head-to-head with Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Now. Instead, think of it as an alternative to Apple Arcade or something to do between episodes of Breaking Bad.

That’s not to say it won’t eventually rival those behemoths, but don’t expect a game-changing experience when it first launches next year. Netflix needs to make sure it properly communicates this to fans ahead of its release, otherwise, there could be a lot of disappointment when it arrives in 2022.

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