If Netflix Games were a TV show, Netflix would have cancelled it by now. According to CNBC, fewer than 1% of Netflix's 221 million subscribers are playing its games daily, with just 23.3 million total downloads. When you consider that Netflix bought three games developers this year, one of them for $72 million, that means right now Netflix Games is a big money pit.
I think part of the problem is that gaming is outside the core product, and that means for most of us Netflix Games is rather like Belgium: we know it exists, but there aren't any compelling reasons to go there. And that's a shame, because hey! Free games!
If you're a subscriber but haven't checked out the selection, here's what you're missing.
What games can you play on Netflix Games?
Let's be clear. Netflix Games isn't a Game Pass rival. It's more like Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass, a curated collection of mobile games. In this case there are 24 titles, rising to 50 later this year, for both iOS and Android devices. There aren't any ads or in-app purchases to spoil the fun. To see the selection, log in on your iOS or Android device, or click here (opens in new tab) to view on a desktop device.
It's important to note that interactive shows such as Bandersnatch or Trivia Quest aren't part of Netflix Games. They're in the main TV and movie catalogue. And Netflix Games aren't available to Kids profiles. You can play on multiple devices using the same account subject to the device limit, which depends on the level of Netflix subscription you have. If you hit the limit you'll need to sign out of other devices in order to play.
So what's available? It's a fairly mixed bag that's quite heavy on real world game-derived titles such as the feline fun of Exploding Kittens, a card game, and Card Blast, which is based on Poker. There are also strategy card games such as Arcanium and the distinctly retro Stranger Things: 1984. To play it's just a matter of installing the game on your device and logging in with your Netflix details.
There's nothing here I'd describe as a must-have, but it's a nice bonus feature if you're using Netflix on your phone or tablet – and it's handy for parents like me who have learnt the hard way that kid-friendly games with ads in them don't tend to check whether the adverts are equally child-friendly. And with the catalogue doubling in size by the end of this year and Netflix hinting about some much bigger titles based on familiar characters, it looks like Netflix is taking a longer view with its games than it does with many of its shows.