Netflix taps ‘Stranger Things’ for first in-app game integration

Streaming giant Netflix launched its first in-app mobile game integration, marking its official venture into the video game space.

“Today members in Poland can try Netflix mobile gaming on Android with two games, ‘Stranger Things: 1984’ and ‘Stranger Things 3,’” Netflix Geeked tweeted Thursday. “It’s very, very early days and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the months ahead, but this is the first step.”

The choice to use the “Stranger Things” franchise comes as no surprise; both games were already developed by studio BonusXP to promote the 2016 hit show. The game “Stranger Things: 1984” was initially released in 2017 for iOS and Android devices, and “Stranger Things 3” was released in 2019 for the Nintendo Switch.

Subscribers can now access the games via simple in-app links that will redirect users to the Google Play Store for downloading. Both titles will come at no additional cost to subscribers and will include no ads and in-app purchases. The games are not available on Apple devices.

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The beta test launched shortly after Netflix made headlines in July when it hired former Electronic Arts executive Mike Verdu and officially announced ambitions to create video games—an announcement made in conjunction with a report of its slowest subscriber growth in eight years.

In second quarter of 2021, Netflix gained more than 1.5 million subscribers worldwide, but lost 430,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. Overall, however, Netflix did slightly better than its forecasted modest increase of 1 million subscribers. 

Now Netflix hopes its new gaming strategy will help retain and grow its subscriber base by expanding its IP footprint—an endeavor the company hopes will slowly manifest into standalone games.

“It’s a multiyear effort. We’re going to start relatively small. We’ll learn, we’ll grow,” Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer said to investors in July. “Our subscription model yields some opportunities to focus on a set of game experiences that are currently underserved by the sort of dominant monetization models in games. We don’t have to think about ads, we don’t have to think about in-game purchases or other monetization, we don’t have to think about per-title purchases. Really, we can do what we’ve been doing on the movie and series side, which is just hyper, laser focused on delivering the most entertaining game experiences that we can.”