At its iPhone 15 launch event, Apple announced that AAA games such as Resident Evil Village and Assassin’s Creed Mirage are coming to the App Store. It seemed like a huge step for a tech company that hasn’t spent much time or effort focusing on video games, but a month later, Apple hasn’t had much else to say about its gaming ambitions. Meanwhile, Netflix is committing plenty of resources to gaming, and Apple might be able to learn a thing or two.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week on Netflix’s growing commitment to gaming. Netflix already offers dozens of mobile games included with its subscriptions. In the coming months, the streamer plans to debut even more games based on popular original series and movies such as Squid Game, Wednesday, Extraction, Black Mirror, and more.
Furthermore, we know that Netflix Games will soon expand beyond your phone screen, as the company is currently working on a cloud gaming service that will allow subscribers to play their games on TVs, PCs, and streaming devices. The company has been running a beta test of the service in Canada and the UK since August, and on Monday, Netflix announced that the limited beta tests are beginning to roll out in the US as well.
There’s even a Netflix Game Controller app available on the Apple App Store in preparation for the launch, allowing subscribers to use their phones as controllers.
The WSJ report also revealed that Netflix “discussed plans” to license a Grand Theft Auto game from Take-Two Interactive, but we don’t know which one. Netflix Games has plenty of gems, but it could still use a killer app. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or GTA: Vice City — both of which are available to buy on the App Store — could potentially fill that role.
Whether or not this gambit is successful for Netflix remains to be seen. In fact, I believe that the odds are against Netflix becoming a major player in this industry, but if the streamer is going to fail, it won’t be for a lack of effort or consideration.
Then there’s Apple, which has the name recognition and customer loyalty to give any competitor in any industry a run for its money. The company always has its fingers in many pies, but despite selling hundreds of millions of phones every year that double as gaming devices, Apple does not put much effort into marketing the iPhone as a gaming console. As a result, the only advantage Netflix has over Apple is its interest in making gaming a top selling point.
Apple may well prove me wrong. The arrival of games like Resident Evil 4 and Death Stranding might kick off a new era of console-quality gaming on the iPhone and iPad. In the meantime, I’m intrigued to see if Netflix’s gaming push pays off.