Netflix is widening its library of mobile games to include a handful spun off from its popular shows.
Why it matters
It's the first time since Netflix kicked off its gaming initiative that it's tapping into stories and characters already popular on Netflix.
Netflix will be rolling out a chess game based on The Queen's Gambit, the limited series that caused Google searches for "chess" to spike to a 14-year high when it was released. It'll even put Beth Harmon's drug-induced upside chessboards up on the ceiling.
It's one of a handful of mobile games coming to Netflix based on some of its popular existing shows, including Spanish heist thriller La Casa de Papel, also known as Money Heist; fantasy series Shadow & Bone; reality show Too Hot to Handle; and game show Nailed It. (And no, Squid Game: The Game isn't one of them.)
It marks the first time since Netflix kicked off a dedicated mission to add games that the company is leveraging its own stories and characters already popular with its subscribers to anchor new game titles.
The Queen's Gambit Chess game and Nailed It!: Baking Bash will be released sometime before the end of 2022, while the rest didn't have timing details. By the end of the year, Netflix said it plans to more than double its number of available games to about 50. The move is part of Netflix's effort to invest in video games as part of its standard subscriptions, in the hope they'll entice new subscribers and give existing ones more reasons to keep their membership.
The news was announced during a presentation Friday wrapping up Netflix's Geeked Week, an online fan event.
Last year, Netflix confirmed that would expand into gaming, starting with ad-free games for mobile devices like phones and tablets at no added cost to subscribers. So far, Netflix has 22 casual, mobile games available, some of which were previously released. Netflix has sketched out broad ambitions for gaming, indicating that it ultimately envisions pursuing console games for Xbox and PlayStation, too.
Gaming widens Netflix, the world's biggest subscription video service, from its bedrock business of TV shows and movies. As Netflix has grown, it has repeatedly called out gaming phenoms like Fortnite as some of its toughest competition because of the massive amount of entertainment hours they command worldwide. Gaming is also Netflix's 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 gaming initiative took on new significance after Netflix reported its first drop in subscribers in a decade earlier this year, and the company has warned that memberships are expected to decline even more.
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 , which makes its own films and TV shows for , 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's games are playable and downloadable via links in Netflix's mobile app, but they need to be installed separately from Netflix's app on your device. You can download the games directly from the Apple and Google app stores, typically at 10 a.m. PT on the day of their release; Netflix also usually posts links to the games' app store listing starting at 2 p.m. PT. In the Netflix app, Android mobile and iPhone users should see a dedicated games row if you scroll down your home tab, with Android additionally having a dedicated games tab. Tablet users should also see a dedicated games row or find games in the categories dropdown menu.