Netflix launches first mobile games for Android globally
It's the company's first worldwide step into its gaming initiative.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Netflix is launching its first five mobile games, available to play in its Android app first and then to its app for Apple iOS devices in the coming months, the company said in a blog post and tweet. The games are available immediately for people with an Android phone or tablet: They're listed in the Google Play store by title (see below) as individual downloads starting Tuesday. As of Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT, Netflix will start rolling out games within its Android app proper, so you won't need to leave the Netflix app and can play them all in the same place.
As they're added to Netflix's main app, games will be accessible in a row on the homepage, in a new games tab or from a drop-down menu for categories. While the initial games require downloads, eventually games will vary in availability -- some will be downloads, some will require an internet connection. But none of Netflix's games have ads, in-app purchases or additional fees.
The first five games, all casual play fare suited for mobile-only play, are Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3: The Game, both previously released games that were developed by BonusXP; Shooting Hoops and Teeter Up, developed by Frosty Pop; and Card Blast, developed by Amuzo and Rogue Games. The last three games were part of Netflix's test of mobile gaming in Poland, Spain and Italy earlier this year.
The move is the latest, biggest step in Netflix's effort to make video games part of its standard subscriptions. Netflix confirmed in July it would expand into gaming, starting with ad-free games for mobile devices like phones and tablets available on its existing service at no added cost to subscribers. The expansion represents its most meaningful move into a new kind of entertainment since it started streaming in 2007, and since it released its first original show in 2012.
The advent of gaming widens Netflix from its bedrock business of TV shows and movies as the world's biggest subscription video service. As Netflix has grown, it's long pointed out that its competition extends beyond the traditional TV and movie companies that go head-to-head with it now. The company has repeatedly called out gaming phenoms like Fortnite, as well as user-generated-video powerhouse YouTube, as some of its toughest competition because of the massive amount of entertainment hours they command worldwide.
Netflix isn't alone in this gaming expansion. Amazon, which operates Prime Video, has invested in Luna, its cloud gaming service and also has its own gaming studio. Google, parent of YouTube, has put money into its own Stadia game-streaming service. And Apple, which makes its own films and TV shows for Apple TV Plus, also widened into Apple Arcade.
But Netflix would be unique by making games part of its one and only subscription. Others offer their gaming services as standalone products, typically also in a bundle with a bunch of other memberships.
Netflix has sketched out broad ambitions for gaming, indicating that it ultimately envisions pursuing console games for Xbox and PlayStation too.