Netflix currently offers its members a variety of video games, and one of the best perks is that none of the games have advertisements or micotransactions. That could change. According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix executives are discussing how to better monetize its game offerings, and one of the possibilities reportedly under discussion is introducing ads and microtransactions.
The report said Netflix is also considering offering some “sophisticated” games for purchase or giving subscribers to Netflix’s ad-based plan the ability to play games featuring ads.
One of the latest additions to the Netflix games catalog is the GTA: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, which includes GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. Netflix subscribers get all three games free, whereas everyone else on iOS and Android needs to pay $20 for each of them.
Introducing ads and/or microtransactions would be a big shift, as Netflix management previously spoke about how a differentiator for Netflix is that its games do not have ads or microtransactions, and they’re all free to members. Of course, things change all the time in business and what a company says one day does not necessarily reflect much of anything for what could happen the next day.
The WSJ report went on to say that Netflix is known to encourage debate internally with regards to future strategic decisions, so there is no guarantee these supposed ideas to monetize will actually happen.
Netflix is a newcomer in the video game space, and its numbers so far reflect that. As of October 2023, only 1% of Netflix’s global subscriber base actually plays its games, according to Apptopia. What’s more, Sensor Tower reported that Netflix games were downloaded 81 million times globally in 2023, up from 28.7 million in 2022.
Netflix’s efforts so far in the games space have focused primarily on mobile games, but the company is also on a major hiring push to find people to create AAA games that carry substantial development costs. Sources told WSJ that one of the reasons why Netflix is looking to pump the numbers on revenue opportunities for its mobile games is to help fund its AAA ambitions.
Netflix recently hired Joseph Staten, a former higher-up at Bungie and Microsoft, to work on a AAA multiplatform game.
Netflix owns a number of internal game development studios, one of them being Oxenfree developer Night School Studios. Netflix is also building studios from scratch, including a game studio in Finland and another in California led by Chacko Sonny, who previously worked on Blizzard’s Overwatch and Sony’s God of War.
Currently, Netflix members can download games. But in the future, Netflix has teased that it is considering its very own cloud gaming service as well.