Remember when Netflix quietly launched a gaming controller app on the App Store last week? Well, now we know why. On Monday, Netflix announced a limited beta test of its cloud gaming technology for “a small number of members in Canada and the UK.” The subscribers who are invited to participate will be able to stream games on select TVs as well as on PCs and Macs through Netflix.com on supported browsers.
“We’ve been focused on creating a great gaming experience for our members since 2021 when we added mobile games to Netflix,” wrote Mike Verdu, Netflix’s VP of gaming, in a blog post on Monday. “Our goal has always been to have a game for everyone, and we are working hard to meet members where they are with an accessible, smooth, and ubiquitous service. Today, we’re taking the first step in making games playable on every device where our members enjoy Netflix — TVs, computers, and mobile.”
Initially, there will be two games available in the beta test: the graphic adventure game Oxenfree and the gem-mining arcade game Molehew’s Mining Adventure. Beta testers who want to play a game on a TV will need to download the Netflix Game Controller. If you are playing in a browser on a PC or Mac, you can use a keyboard and mouse.
The goal for Netflix is to test the game streaming technology and game controller app prior to a wider rollout. At first, mobile game streaming will be limited to the following TVs: Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Players, Chromecast with Google TV, LG TVs, Nvidia Shield TV, Roku devices and TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, and Walmart ONN. Netflix will add more devices on an ongoing basis, so if you don’t see your TV on the list, be patient.
I have my doubts that Netflix can make a dent in a market as competitive and as established as gaming, but I’m excited to watch the company try. The potential of cloud gaming is clear, but the execution is often underwhelming (see: Google Stadia). The key for Netflix is not biting off more than it can chew, and based on this beta test, its ambitions seem reasonable. Virtually no one is playing the increasingly stellar selection of free mobile games Netflix offers, but give users the ability to play a round of Cut the Rope Daily between watching episodes of Painkiller on their couch, and who knows what the added visibility could do for the offering.