Over the summer, Netflix revealed that it was going to start working its way into the video game world, hiring former Oculus VR guy Mike Verdu (also a veteran of Electronic Arts’ not-particularly-reputable mobile games division) to spearhead a then-mysterious Netflix video game initiative. There had been rumblings before that about Netflix specifically mentioning video games in a new production deal with Shonda Rhimes, but we had no idea just how big the scope of Netflix’s gaming vision was.
As it turns out… it’s not super big. Netflix’s first video games launched today, available only on the Android version of the Netflix mobile app, and the initial lineup leaves a bit to be desired. Kotaku points out that there are two previously released Stranger Things games (both faux-SNES or Genesis-y adventure titles), silly basketball game Shoot Hoops, ball-rolling game Teeter, and (the only brand new game) a card-based puzzle game called Card Blast that looks a lot like a number of other card-based puzzle games.
No Bridgerton romance game, no WarioWare-style collection of I Think You Should Leave games, no epic Witcher RPG. They didn’t steal any of the semi-jokey ideas we floated in previous new stories! The one notable thing about these disappointing games, though, is that it establishes what Netflix seems to be going for here. It’s not trying to be a competitor to Xbox or PlayStation or Fortnite, it’s trying to be a competitor to the Apple Arcade on iOS—or at least a different take on the concept, since the Netflix games are exclusively available to people who can’t access iOS at this point.
The Netflix games are available for no extra charge, and they have no ads or in-app purchases. You can even download the games to play offline, just like you can with some of Netflix’s movies and TV shows. The idea seems to be that the Netflix app could become your one stop for all of your phone-based entertainment needs, which makes a bit of sense (especially if it can do that without breaking the bank on these mobile games).