Netflix has confirmed that it is adding video games to its library, amid a collapse in its subscriber growth. The company said it will add games for no extra cost to people with existing subscription plans. But it did not say when they would arrive, or what kind of games it would offer.The announcement came as part of its latest results, which showed that its fast growth in subscribers is slowing.
The company blamed the issues on people leaving the house more as coronavirus lockdowns lift, as well as the fact that problems making films and TV shows under the pandemic meant it had less attractive content than usual.
The results showed the video service added 1.5 million subscribers during the April-June period. That’s slightly better than the modest increase that management forecast after the service stumbled to a sluggish start during the winter months, but still far below its growth rate in recent years.
Netflix’s net gain of 5.5 million subscribers through the first six months of this year represents its weakest first-half performance since 2013 – a time when the company was still rolling out more original programming as it branched out from licensing existing TV series and movies.
Now Netflix is taking another leap by offering video games that intends to produce itself as part of what it described as a multi-year expansion. The Los Gatos, California, company telegraphed the move last week when it disclosed the hiring of a veteran video game executive, Mike Verdu, to explore potential opportunities in another field of entertainment.
“The reason we’re doing them is to help the subscription service grow and be more important in people’s lives,” Netflix co-chief executive Reed Hastings told investors during a Tuesday discussion.
Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, said the company will initially focus on mobile games before eventually expanding to consoles and TV sets as well. The games initially will be tied to Netflix’s most popular programming, Peters said, but standalone titles may be added to the, mix too. He even speculated that Netflix eventually may create a TV series or film inspired by one of its video games.
“There’s a a big, big prize here, and our job is to be really focused,” Peters said.
Despite this year’s growth slowdown, Netflix remains by far the world’s biggest streaming service in an increasingly competitive field that includes Walt Disney Co., HBO, Amazon and Apple. Netflix finished June with 209 million worldwide subscribers.