Netflix is ​​testing ‘game handles’ in some mobile titles as part of developing social gaming features – TechCrunch

Netflix is ​​developing features that would allow members to play its mobile games with each other and rank competitively on game leaderboards. The company, starting last month, quietly launched the ability for users to create unique “game handles” in a subset of its mobile games, including Into The Breach, followed by Bowling Ballers, Mahjong Solitaire and Heads. Up!. Additionally, references discovered in the Netflix app point to expanded gaming ambitions, including the ability to invite other users to play games with you and a feature that would let you see where you stand in the games. rankings, among others.

The company confirmed it was exploring various gaming features in a statement provided to TechCrunch, but could not indicate which features, beyond game handles, would be rolling out publicly to users or when that would happen.

“We are always looking to improve our members’ experience on the service and are exploring different features to enrich the Netflix mobile gaming experience,” Netflix spokesperson Kumiko Hidaka said. “We have nothing further to share at this time.”

The additions suggest that Netflix envisions a future that doesn’t just make mobile games available to its subscribers, but encourages members to participate in games by playing with others. The news follows the recent revelation that Netflix has hired engineers and product managers with experience in cloud gaming.

According to the findings, first discovered by the developer Steve MoserNetflix allows users to set up what’s called a “game handle”, which is described as “a unique public name for playing games on Netflix”.

Netflix first began its testing of game handles in the game Into The Breach from July 19, 2022, before expanding the option to other titles.

Additionally, Netflix explains to app users that, “Your profile icon and name will not be visible to other Netflix Games players.” (In other words, you may be known by a nickname instead of your Netflix name and identity.)

While the game handles test has been rolled out, app code suggests that Netflix plans to allow users to see where they are on the leaderboards and represent the user in Netflix games in the future. And the handles will be used when “playing with other members”, the code says.

Another section refers to the possibility for users to show others if they are online, if they want to play and also offers the possibility of inviting members to play with them.

Adding more social components is probably one of the ways Netflix aims to better attract and retain subscribers.

But, so far, Netflix hasn’t seen outsized demand for its mobile games.

App data firm Apptopia recently discovered that Netflix games average just 1.7 million daily users, CNBC first had reported. In total, the two dozen games in Netflix’s catalog have only seen 23.3 million downloads to date. Netflix, for comparison, has 221 million subscribers.

Of course, some of Netflix’s games had built-in userbases before they were acquired by Netflix. But while that may account for some innumerable downloads, engagement levels are quite low.

Whether Netflix made a strategic mistake in jumping into the game remains to be seen, as it’s still too early.

To its credit, Netflix has found a workaround to Apple’s rule that apps on its App Store platform cannot host their own app stores – Netflix lists its games as separate downloads and just points from its main application, which is allowed. The games then require your Netflix credentials to log in.

However, mobile consumers may not think of turning to Netflix for this type of entertainment, nor do they think of launching Netflix when they are in the mood for TikTok-like short videos – the latter which Netflix promotes in its main navigation as “Quick laughs.

The streamer’s premise seems to be that it needs to grow its backlog subscriber count by providing more entertainment opportunities. But the wider feedback of reviews and users likewise, what they really want from Netflix aren’t games or TikToks, just more quality shows.

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