Whilst it’s been suspected for a long time, on Thursday last week Netflix announced their new ad-supported tier. The new tier will allow users to watch the streaming giant’s content at a lower cost, with the caveat that ads will be shown with an “Average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour.” However, one interesting aspect can be found in their FAQ, which confirms not only that ads will not be a part of their Netflix games service, but that this service will still be available to the ‘Basic with ads’ package.
Netflix Games launched back in 2021 and has had a bumpy ride. Not necessarily due to the quality of the games available, but more due to a lack of subscriber awareness around this feature. Unfortunately the feature has seen little engagement from existing customers despite a fairly substantial and growing library, including games such as Into the Breach, and others based on their streaming catalogue including hits like Stranger Things.
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Why is Netflix doing this? It’s likely that the company wants to emphasise the value of their package, as the move to advertising-supported plans has been controversial to many. For those who were originally attracted to Netflix for its no-nonsense, purely streaming-based approach to tv and film, the idea of advertising supported tiers seems antithetical to the original format.
Netflix have not only been struggling with lower subscription counts, but also with a lack of awareness around their Netflix games projects. Although exclusives such as Desta and forthcoming collaborations with Tilting Point are significant additions, they would stand to gain little by restricting an already underutilised feature to a higher subscription tier. Therefore, it can be seen as something of a ‘sweetener’ to those on an advertising tier, if Netflix can make them aware of it.
PocketGamer placed Netflix at #26 on our list of the Top Mobile Game Makers of 2022 precisely because of the massive potential in their product. Their acquisitions of other development firms and the opening of their own studio in Helsinki should help Netflix Games become a source of potentially great value to their subscribers, should they make them more aware of it.