Since it began to enter the gaming market, many have been waiting for Netflix to make the move of game streaming directly to TVs. In a low-key announcement, Netflix’s gaming boss Mike Verdu said it has begun a limited beta test to a small number of members in Canada and the U.K., allowing them to play two games on their TVs. Support for playing on PCs via browsers will follow in the next few weeks.
Currently, the Netflix cloud gaming service will not accept Bluetooth controllers, instead, it will make use of a custom smartphone controller app (which was already discovered late last week on the iOS App Store).
A big, fat A button is encircled by small B, X, and Y buttons in the app’s simple, virtual stick-and-button layout, which is reminiscent of Nintendo’s beloved but rarely copied GameCube controller. Control via a mouse and keyboard will be supported on PCs.
Both Oxenfree, a beloved narrative adventure game from Night School Studio that Netflix purchased in 2021, and Molehew’s Mining Adventure are playable during the beta test. The latter game is completely mysterious because, unlike Oxenfree. It is not a part of the library of games that are currently available for native mobile play as part of a Netflix subscription.
According to Polygon, Verdu claims that it is a “gem-mining arcade game.” Verdu said:
“Our goal has always been to have a game for everyone, and we are working hard to meet members where they are with an accessible, smooth, and ubiquitous service. Today, we’re taking the first step in making games playable on every device where our members enjoy Netflix — TVs, computers, and mobile,”
He added, taking pains to point out that:
“This limited beta is meant to test our game streaming technology and controller, and to improve the member experience over time, we’re still very early in our games journey.”
The announcement’s tentativeness stands in contrast to Google’s clamorous but unsuccessful foray into cloud gaming, Stadia, which debuted in late 2019 and shut down barely three years later.
Although many anticipate that cloud gaming will play a significant role in the future of video games, there are a number of technological and other obstacles to its expansion, and the uptake of competitors like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia’s GeForce Now has been gradual. In light of this, Netflix’s caution in attempting to become the “Netflix for games” makes it logical.
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Another difficulty for Netflix is that, despite being quite high-quality, its gaming library has so far been centered on mobile games, and many of those experiences won’t work well on TV screens.
It seems reasonable to anticipate that its streaming service will place more of an emphasis on games with an existing PC version, such as Into the Breach, and less of an emphasis on mobile originals like the amazing Poinpy.
Netflix appears to be intent on pursuing its gaming goals, though. It claims to have 16 titles in production internally, including a “AAA multiplatform game and original IP” headed by Bungie veteran and Halo and Destiny co-creator Joseph Staten.
The Verge Tweeted on Aug 14, 2023:
Netflix’s first cloud gaming test announces the arrival of the real Netflix of games. https://t.co/iLgpLo0s7v
— The Verge (@verge) August 14, 2023
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