Netflix looks to be gearing up for an expansion of its budding gaming initiative. On Monday, the company launched a new iPhone and iPad app called Netflix Game Controller on the App Store. According to the app’s description, the virtual controller pairs with your television and allows you to play games on Netflix with your phone or tablet. You can download the app for free right now, but there’s no way to use it to play games just yet.
Netflix has yet to formally announce the app, but given that it’s now available to the public, we should hear something soon. As noted by TechCrunch, Netflix’s VP of Gaming Mike Verdu said last October that the company was “exploring a cloud gaming offering.” You’ll obviously need a controller, virtual or otherwise, to play those games on your TV.
Netflix began offering mobile games included with its subscription in November 2021. Over the years, the library has expanded significantly, and Netflix has even acquired some of the studios behind the games that it offers, such as Oxenfree developer Night School Studio and Dungeon Boss: Respawned developer Boss Fight Entertainment.
The streamer’s iOS and Android games are free to play with an active Netflix subscription. They also lack any ads or microtransactions. Currently, the only way to play them is on mobile, but the Netflix Game Controller app does claim that “Netflix Games on TV are in beta.” Evidence of this unannounced beta program surfaced back in March (via Bloomberg).
The streaming service is unlikely to topple Nintendo, PlayStation, or Xbox, but that’s also not the point of publishing games through Netflix. “It’s a value add,” Verdu explained. “We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement.”
Admittedly, given the neverending price hikes and the lack of quality content, being able to play Netflix’s surprisingly impressive catalog of games on my TV would make me feel a little better about subscribing. There are some real gems on the service, from Laya’s Horizon and TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge to Terra Nil and Kentucky Route Zero. If the library grows apace, it could become a real selling point for the service in the months to come.