Netflix now offers Android video games to paying subscribers
After regional restrictions earlier this year, Netflix's game promotion officially kicks off this week when the company releases an update to its Android app. All Netflix users on Android will see a line labeled "N Games" or "Mobile Games" in the regular video streaming app. The games are only available on smartphones and tablets.
Today's announcement confirms what we already knew after the beta launch in Poland at the end of August. Netflix games are downloaded to your Android device, not streamed from Netflix's cloud server. (Subscription services like Nvidia's GeForce Now, Xbox Game Streaming, and Amazon's Luna are still poised to vie for the crown of the "Netflix of gaming," as they stream computation-intensive games from server farms to your favorite screens.)
In addition to two smartphone games based on the Stranger Things series, Netflix Games currently has three other arcade-style point-and-click action games. Like licensed games, these games were previously released on smartphone stores. Now they're part of Netflix Games, which have been updated without any upfront costs or hidden microtransactions.
That's a key difference for Netflix Games, which is similar to Amazon's 2015 foray into Android Games, where it offered game developers free Games and paid for them based on how often they downloaded and played them. The "Amazon Underground" service required downloading apps, a move that received far less attention than when Epic Games downloaded Fortnite a few years later. Amazon's effort failed, dying in less than two years.
Share your account? There is no problem
Today's announcement didn't mention the size of Apple's smartphone and tablet ecosystem; Instead, you have to check the official Twitter account "Netflix Geek" to confirm that iOS support for Netflix Games is "in the works."As we've previously confirmed, authentication on Android should translate smoothly to iOS whenever Netflix Games releases a game on iOS.(This certainly isn't the first time Netflix has rolled out interesting new features on Android before iOS.)
Once the Netflix Android app update goes live tomorrow, users will be able to find each individually downloaded game in the Netflix app and confirm their Netflix credentials before loading the game. While Netflix says some of its games will need to be checked in with the server every time you play, I confirmed that some startup games can at least work in full offline mode, log in after confirming Netflix credentials before each game is completely over, put your smartphone into airplane mode, and reload the game again.
Speaking of flexibility, if your Netflix account supports multiple simultaneous logins (like the $17.99-a-month "4K" plan in the US), Netflix Games will work the same way. Everyone can log in and play the game at the same time until the account's "maximum device" limit is reached. At that point, the app will raise an alert, much like video account sharing. While all of the games so far have been children's games (especially those without microtransactions), games are currently classified as "adult" content and therefore require an adult account or PIN access.
Today's games are like what you'd expect from a former Zynga executive running the newly formed Netflix Games category. But that executive, Mike Verdu, insists there is more to come." As with our series, movies, and specials, we want to design games for all levels and types of players, whether you're a beginner or a lifelong gamer," he wrote in a statement today. Ars Technica is familiar with at least two Netflix game projects that are more surprising than the ones we see today.