In an effort to expand its gaming section, Netflix has launched a new app that would allow subscribers to play games on their TV. Dubbed ‘Netflix Game Controller,’ the app essentially works as a touchscreen gamepad, featuring an analogue stick for movement and a set of action buttons on the right. The app is now available to download for free on the Apple App Store, though it seems as though the streamer inadvertently published it a bit early. There’s no official announcement from the platform about its use case or an Android release, while the product description simply states that it’s ‘coming soon.’
As per Gizmodo, the app does not do anything besides asking the user to pick a game. There are no details on connectivity either, though I’m going to assume it will be through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In an interview, Mike Verdu, Netflix Gaming VP confirmed that the team was exploring a ‘cloud gaming offering,’ though the plan isn’t to compete with the big leagues of PlayStation or Xbox — rather, just a ‘value add’ for subscribers. It’s also unclear whether the games will run natively on the TV and use your phone simply as a controller, or if whatever is on your phone screen will sync up and stream onto the big screen. Something similar — but opposite — to the Steam Link app, which mirrors the Steam window active on your PC or laptop onto your mobile device with low latency.
Regardless, this is a plus for Netflix subscribers, who will keep getting exclusive access to mobile games for the foreseeable future, though you still won’t be able to share passwords with friends or family living elsewhere. Back in March, the streamer announced its plans to launch 40 new titles to the service, with plans to build on its existing IP catalogue, in addition to working with external partners such as Ubisoft and Super Evil Megacorp. We recently saw Raji: An Ancient Epic getting ported to mobile, followed by The Queen’s Gambit Chess, which was based on its original limited series starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The Ubisoft partnership already brought Mighty Quest: Rogue Palace onto mobile and it has plans for an Assassin’s Creed title as well.
As for whether these video games will be received as value additions will be revealed in time since many seem to be bummed about Netflix’s recent crackdown on password sharing. Affected secondary account holders will now be asked to enter verification codes every 31 days and will have their IP tracked, as a means to log them out of account. As a result of this update, the company recorded 6 million new members in its Q2 earnings, totalling 238 million subscribers. Netflix also pivoted into the restaurant business, earlier this year, via an exclusive eatery in Los Angeles that serves food seen in some of its culinary programming.
Currently, there is no word on when Netflix plans to bring its games catalogue to TV. The Netflix Game Controller app is now available to download on iOS.