Netflix Launches More Mobile Games In Bid To Hang Onto Subscribers

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Netflix Launches More Mobile Games In Bid To Hang Onto Subscribers
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Despite all the turmoil facing the company, Netflix continues to crank out video games.

On Tuesday, the streaming giant launched three new mobile titles and announced a fourth new game that will be released on May 31—taking Netflix’s total catalog to 22 titles since it expanded into gaming late last year.


The new games include “Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt,” which is Netflix’s first game from Germany. Developed by HandyGames, it lets players build medieval cities and try to keep their kingdom’s citizens happy. Netflix also launched its first game from Spain, 11 Bit Studios' “Moonlighter,” which involves managing a shop by day and slaying monsters by night. Another new title, “Dragon Up” by Canadian developer East Side Games, has players hatch and collect rare dragons and is available in 30 languages, according to Netflix.

The forthcoming title is “Exploding Kittens - The Game,” which is based on the popular card game created in Los Angeles and will also be the basis for a Netflix TV series released in 2023.

Netflix’s venture into gaming comes as the company grapples with a startling decline in subscribers. The streaming service lost 200,000 paying customers from January through March—the company’s first quarterly subscriber loss in more than a decade—and expects to lose 2 million more in the current quarter. That dire outlook has cratered the company’s stock price by nearly 70% this year, prompting the firm to lay off staffers and curtail its spending.

The poor financial results have Netflix trying new initiatives, from adding commercials to cracking down on password sharing. But unlike those planned changes, Netflix’s foray into gaming was well underway before its disastrous first-quarter earnings. The company bought Glendale-based gaming studio Night School in September—the first of three gaming acquisitions within six months—and launched its first mobile game in November.

“It's a top-level priority for us, and we're very focused on it,” Netflix COO and chief product officer Gregory Peters said of gaming during the company’s April earnings call. “We're aiming to have titles that land, that create conversation and enthusiasm and buzz, that drive more people to sign up for the service and then obviously in retention as well.”

With Netflix yet to produce a huge gaming hit, some observers have criticized the effort; one media analyst called gaming a “distraction” from the company’s core business. Adding mobile games, however, could help Netflix attract younger consumers who prefer gaming, while also giving existing customers more value for their monthly subscription. As Netflix now knows firsthand, consumers are increasingly willing to cancel a streaming service, especially if they think it’s too costly.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

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