Netflix Might Bring Its Games to TVs in Effort to Get People to Actually Play Them

Netflix Might Bring Its Games to TVs in Effort to Get People to Actually Play Them

Higher quality TV and movies? No. A standard of not cancelling shows after a single season? Nah. Mobile games on your TV? Yup. That appears to be Netflix’s plan after a developer found some hidden code while digging through the platform. The company’s actually been offering games on mobile since 2021, but given paltry player numbers, the effort to bring them to TVs, where most subscribers actually use Netflix, might be the best way to remind people that they’re even there.

App developer Steve Moser — who shared his findings with Bloomberg — found some sneaky lines of code during some digging into Netflix’s back end. One line of the code allegedly read “A game on your TV needs a controller to play. Do you want to use this phone as a game controller?,” indicating that a user’s smartphone would serve as the controller for a game hosted on Netflix’s interface.

Currently, Netflix’s gaming service is relegated to mobile, and while there’s critically acclaimed titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Immortality in there, you can only get at them either by stumbling on Netflix’s games on your phone’s app store or through a single row in the Netflix app. As such, it’s easy to miss out on this side of Netflix entirely. According to recent data, only one per cent of subscribers are playing games on Netflix.

Netflix started dipping its toes into gaming in July 2021, when the company officially announced its intentions to enter the gaming sphere. Four months later, Netflix snatched up Night School Studio, an indie game developer with a few notable games like 2019’s Afterparty and 2016’s Oxenfree, which bares a plot that’s strikingly similar to that of Netflix’s flagship show, Stranger Things.

That same year, Netflix also released games like Into the Dead 2: Unleashed, Stranger Things 3: The Game, and Card Blast on iOS devices, and since then has released well over two dozen mobile games. This past October, Netflix acquired Spry Fox as its sixth in-house video game studio purchase in a little over a year.

It’s not nearly as robust a service as Xbox Game Pass or even competitor Amazon’s Luna, but the library’s breadth and quality is roughly on par with Apple Arcade and is admittedly a nice bonus on top of your subscription that’s easy to miss, if a confusing direction for the company — we’re not sure anybody should subscribe to Netflix for the games, at least right now.

By putting its games on TVs, Netflix could boost their discoverability and maybe make its gaming branch more of a legitimate selling point. The code’s reference to using a phone as a controller does imply that the move would still be limited to Netflix’s current mobile game lineup, which would still leave it behind more robust console selections from competing game services, but would also keep the service lightweight and allow it to be played across more platforms, as it does not currently rely on streaming from the cloud. We are curious, though, if Netflix will allow for more traditional controllers in games that support them.

Netflix and Moser did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.