A week ago Netflix hired a veteran of Electronic Arts and Oculus to be its "President of Game Development," which led Bloomberg to declare that the long-time movie and TV streamer was stepping into the game market. Yesterday Netflix confirmed that this is true in a letter to shareholders: Netflix is indeed going to offer games. But don't throw out your Stadia controller just yet.
"We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg, Black Mirror Bandersnatch) and our [licensed] Stranger Things games," said the company (PDF link). Without giving a timeframe for adding games to Netflix's offerings, it did say that they'd be available in existing subscriptions at no extra cost.
Then came the other foot:
Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices.
While getting more for your money is always a good thing, it looks like Netflix isn't interested in competing with more conventional game streaming platforms like Stadia, GeForce Now, PlayStation Now, or Luna, at least not in the short term. Presumably if the company sticks to mobile-style games, a la the Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass, it might not be streaming them at all: small mobile games could simply be installed on users' phones or smart TVs and played locally.
Netflix was sparse with details in its letter to shareholders. Hopefully we'll hear more soon: is the company working on original games based on its huge array of properties, or merely republishing existing titles? Might they be open to more ambitious, console-style games in the future? We'll have to stay tuned.