Netflix’s gaming output so far has been limited to mobile games, but the streaming giant is now expanding in a big way. The company is bringing titles to TV screens and computers by way of streaming.
A limited beta test is now live in Canada and the UK for TVs, with support for PC and Mac coming in the next few weeks. As part of this test, people can try the games Oxenfree and Molehew’s Mining Adventure using their phone as a controller for games played on TV and keyboard and mouse for computer games on Netflix.com
“This limited beta is meant to test our game streaming technology and controller, and to improve the member experience over time,” Netflix said. As you can see in the image below, the Netflix gaming controller takes over your smartphone screen and includes ABXY buttons and a virtual thumbstick.
The streaming company is following a playbook here, as it typically tests new features in certain regions before rolling things out more widely later on.
For now, supported TVs include Amazon Fire TV units, Chromecast with Google TV, LG TVs, Nvidia Shield TV, Roku devices and TVs, Samsung smart TVs, and Walmart ONN. Netflix said it will add more devices later.
“By making games available on more devices, we hope to make games even easier to play for our members around the world. While we’re still very early in our games journey, we’re excited to bring joy to members with games,” Netflix Games boss Mike Verdu said. “We look forward to hearing feedback from our beta testers and sharing more as we continue on the road ahead.”
In October 2022, Verdu said Netflix was “very seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering” for TV and PC, and now that’s happening.
“We’ll approach this the same way we did with mobile, which is start small, be humble, be thoughtful, and then build out. But it is a step we think we should take to meet members where they are, on the devices where they consume Netflix,” Verdu said.
In 2011, Netflix announced plans to offer Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii games for rental by mail, though it scuttled these plans not long after announcing them. At the time, the company said it was “still considering” offering games to rent by mail but this never happened.
In the initial Qwikster announcement, Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings himself spoke about how enthusiastic the Netflix audience was for games. “Members have been asking for video games for many years, and now that DVD-by-mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done,” he said.
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