Gaming is a profitable industry.
Not only that, but it’s also fairly stable.
Just remember the pandemic lockdown – gaming was one of the few sectors that flourished during this period. Even in the midst of a recession, the gaming industry is doing well.
Due to all this, we’re starting to see more and more brands hopping on the gaming bandwagon.
As a result, the brands gaming environment is becoming more exciting by the day. While some projects are getting shut down, other companies are just starting their gaming ventures.
Here comes an overview!
At the moment, Netflix is one of the most notable names in the brands gaming environment.
The industry has been buzzing about Netflix games since they were first announced. The company launched its gaming service in November 2021 and has been actively working on it ever since.
Some say that Netflix games flopped spectacularly, while others claim they are growing.
We say it’s still early to tell.
How do Netflix Games Work?
Netflix’s gaming services are centered around mobile games, the driving force of gaming.
These games are available to anyone who has a Netflix subscription.
If you’re one of those people using someone’s account, don’t worry — you have access to the games too.
The “games” section is placed in the Netflix mobile app, right next to the “home” section. Here, users can find Netflix’s mobile games library. At the moment, there are 35 games in the library (last check in October 2022). This includes different genres, from simulation to strategy and card games.
But, you can’t play games within the app.
When you tap a “get game” button, you are taken to Google Play or Apple App store, where you can download games published by Netflix.
The main selling point? There is more than one, so let us count them:
- The games don’t contain ads
- They don’t offer in-app purchases
- They can be found exclusively on Netflix
- There are no extra fees on top of the membership
Why Did Netflix Get Into Gaming?
You may be wondering — if Netflix’s games don’t make money through ads and IAPs, what’s in it for them?
According to Netflix, the main reason why they added games to the app is to keep subscribers engaged between shows.
Let’s say a person watches the Stranger Things show and really likes it.
Until the new season rolls out, they might find it exciting to switch to a Stranger Things mobile game instead.
How Does Netflix Develop Games?
Netflix is pouring money into developing high-quality mobile games.
Right off the bat, the entertainment giant acquired three existing studios (Next Games, Night School Studio, and Boss Fight Entertainment).
Their next big move was establishing an internal game development studio in Helsinki, Finland. This studio is led by Marko Lastikka, co-founder of Zynga Helsinki, and employs a lot of other talented gaming professionals.
How Popular Are Netflix Games?
We won’t get into the debate about whether Netflix games are a failure or not.
We’ll just drop the latest numbers and leave it up to you.
According to Apptopia, Netflix games have gotten a total of 23.3 million downloads and have 1.7 million daily active users on average.
Since Netflix has 221 million subscribers, this means that less than 1% of them use this feature.
On a more positive note, Netflix‘s mobile game downloads have been increasing since May, reaching 2.9 million in July (Sensor Tower and Protocol).
Is this trend going to continue?
Time will tell, and we’ll be here to keep you updated.
Next Step: Cloud Gaming?
The word on the street is that Netflix wants to enter the cloud gaming market.
How do we know that?
They have posted a number of job openings for these positions.
With this move, Netflix can go beyond mobile and expand to all sorts of devices. If this works out, we may soon play games on our smart TVs.
TikTok Mini Games
Another company that has recently joined the brands gaming environment is TikTok.
Last year, they tested the waters in a partnership with Zynga. Now, they are testing HTML5 games on a larger scale.
At the first glance, their move seems to make a lot of sense.
Gen Z, TikTok’s largest audience, definitely has an appetite for mobile games.
But the question is — do they think it belongs to their favorite social platform?
How do TikTok Games Work?
You can play TikTok’s mini-games without exiting the app.
Where can you find them?
They are attached to other users’ videos — right underneath their usernames.
Therefore, it’s hard to miss them.
For the games to appear in their posts, creators must directly add them. After they choose the video they want to upload, they need to tap “add link” and choose a “MiniGame” from a list of games offered. Finally, they can post the video with the attached mini-game.
Who Develops TikTok’s Mini Games?
TikTok’s mini-game library is constantly growing.
All the games in it are made in partnership with third-party game studios and developers. Some notable names include Voodoo, Aim Lab, FRVR, and Lotum.
These games don’t contain in-app ads or in-app purchases — at least for now.
But, after the testing phase finishes, they will probably look for ways to make money from these games.
You may be wondering — what’s TikTok’s strategy behind this move?
They dream big.
If testing shows that TikTok users are interested in gaming on the spot, the platform could emerge as a worthy rival to Google Play and the App Store.
Since users don’t have to leave the platform to play these games, TikTok may become a casual gaming hub that bypasses Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
And, of course, take a cut of their gaming profits.
But for all this to happen, TikTok games first need to win over the users’ hearts.
They need to be embraced both by content creators and their audiences, and that won’t be an easy task.
Amazon Luna — Cloud Gaming Subscription
Amazon is very involved in gaming.
While Twitch is its most famous game-related project, it’s possible you haven’t heard of its other gaming service — Amazon Luna.
After a while in early access mode, the service was officially launched in May 2022.
Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming subscription service. By purchasing a subscription plan, users get to play cloud-based games on devices they already possess.
The service is split into different channels. Each channel comes at a separate price and includes a bundle of different games:
- Luna+ (a mix of different genres and styles)
- Family channel (solo and multiplayer games appropriate for users of all ages)
- Retro channel (popular arcade, PlayStation 2, and other games that evoke nostalgia)
- Prime Gaming (available for Amazon Prime members)
- Jackbox (party pack)
Note that Amazon Prime has over 200 million members.
All of these people got free access to one of the channels. This is an extremely important strategic decision because it works as a sample for the “real deal”. If these users accept the gaming service, it is very likely that others will too.
Xbox Plans to Enter the Mobile Gaming Space
Microsoft, the owner of Xbox, has recently revealed something huge — they want to build a mobile gaming store.
This news leaked because the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition.
They asked for context, and that’s how we found out about this plan.
According to Microsoft, the “Xbox Mobile Platform” should be able to operate on different devices, including mobile. It should also include titles by two huge studios — Activision Blizzard and King.
This includes megahits like Call of Duty: Mobile and Candy Crush Saga.
This is unquestionably a big deal. When the store comes to life, it might become a significant disruption for Google and Apple.
Duracell on Instagram
Although Duracell is not trying to become a gaming platform, the company has recently experimented with gaming as a marketing strategy.
To promote their Optimum batteries, Duracell has developed a competitive retro-style game on Instagram. The game was called “Bunny Hop” and it featured the company’s mascot. Players needed to steer the bunny through different obstacles, with power boosters in the form of Duracell batteries on the way.
As a reward, the top scorers won real-life Duracell products.
Duracell’s goal was to develop a game users would want to play and share with their followers. Users could record themselves playing the game and instantly share the video.
But…Instagram doesn’t have a games-building feature, right?
This game was built using Spark AR, Meta’s Augmented Reality platform, typically used for filters and try-on.
The effort was worth it because the game yielded some surprisingly positive results. The average playtime was two and a half minutes, as opposed to the 6 to 10-second average stay time for Instagram videos.
Brands That Gave up on Gaming
While some brands are just entering the gaming market, some have already tried it — and failed.
And we are talking about major companies with plenty of resources.
But, it’s not resources they lacked — but audiences.
Why didn’t their gaming ventures work out? Here’s an overview of some (in)famous examples.
In September 2022, Google announced that they are shutting down Google Stadia.
Launched in November 2019, this service was never widely accepted.
Google Stadia was created as a cloud gaming service where users could subscribe and play games without having to download them to a console or PC device. Thanks to the cloud feature, they could just stream games to any device over the internet.
This way, users wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive hardware to play popular games, because they can stream them instead.
The logic appears to be sound, right?
But as it turned out, users who want to play console-style games don’t have a problem buying a gaming console. As a result, Google Stadia didn’t get enough subscribers to become a successful project.
Cloud Gaming on Google Stadia vs. Others
You might be thinking — why are other companies entering the cloud gaming space considering what happened to Google Stadia?
They are different.
On Netflix, cloud gaming would be just an extra feature of the streaming platform, not the core offering. Netflix subscribers pay to watch shows and movies, and free games are a nice added bonus.
Amazon Luna is more similar to Google Stadia than Netflix games but still different enough. Thanks to the “channels” it offers, this service has the potential to draw different niche audiences.
It is also interesting to look into the numbers for cloud gaming services.
In Q4 2021, the most popular cloud gaming service was Xbox, followed by Facebook Gaming, Google Stadia Pro, and Amazon Luna.
Despite a solid subscriber count in Q4 2021, this wasn’t enough to keep the Facebook Gaming app alive, as it got canceled in 2022.
Facebook launched the app in 2020, hoping it will capture its massive audience and become a strong competitor to streaming platforms like Twitch.
Why did they shut it down?
It’s pretty straightforward — low usage and cutting costs. According to Streamlabs, in Q2 2022. Facebook accounted for only 7.9% of hours spent in streaming apps, as opposed to 76.7% and 15.4% spent in Twitch and YouTube.
However, the service isn’t shutting down completely — it will still be available in the Gaming section of the Facebook app.
Brands Gaming Environment: Final Thoughts
As you can see, most of these companies are trying to become the “Netflix of gaming”
The premise is simple.
Just like Netflix allows you to watch TV shows and movies on any device, a subscription gaming service would allow you to play games whenever and wherever.
On the other hand, some companies use the popularity of gaming to make their primary services more attractive.
Either way, the competition in the brands gaming scene is huge, and many projects have already failed. We are excited to see if any of them will become serious competitors to Google Play and the App Store.
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