LONDON: Netflix has announced a partnership with French video game company Ubisoft to boost its games library, a move designed to bolster the streaming platform’s position in the gaming market.
Ubisoft said it is working on three exclusive titles for Netflix, all of which are built on the former’s existing franchises. One of them is a game in the blockbuster Assassin’s Creed series, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The game was originally conceived to cross-promote a live-action Netflix TV adaptation that was announced in 2020 and remains in development.
“We’re thrilled to work with Ubisoft, whose track record creating memorable worlds for fans is unmatched,” said Mike Verdu, vice president of games at Netflix.
“This partnership will provide our members with exclusive access to some of the most exciting game franchises as we continue to build a catalog of great mobile games for our members around the world.”
Ubisoft said it is also developing for Netflix a Valiant Hearts game, expected to be a sequel to 2014’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War, and a version of action-role playing game The Mighty Quest. All three games are expected to be released in 2023 on the Netflix mobile app.
Netflix said the games will not feature advertisements or in-app purchases but did not reveal whether it intends to make games accessible to users of its reduced-subscription-rate, ad-supported platform, which is due to launch in November. Experts speculate, however, that the titles will be available exclusively to premium subscribers.
“Netflix doesn’t take a lot of big shots like this but when they do, they back them, and they’re committed to them,” said Verdu. “And they understand that the journey may be a long one, especially with games, where it takes years to make games.”
Netflix entered the gaming sector last year in a move closely monitored by other tech companies that have taken similar steps to enter a potentially lucrative market through investments and targeted acquisitions.
Despite wider industry slowdowns, the gaming sector enjoyed an unprecedented boom over the past few years and is currently valued at $200 billion, according to market intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence, with the MENA region representing the fastest-growing market.
Over the past few months, Netflix, which aims to have a library of more than 50 games titles available by the end of this year, has ramped up its investment in the gaming industry by buying three game studios: Boss Fight Entertainment, Next Games, and Night School Studio.
However, despite Netflix’s efforts, the new service has received little attention and currently represents a marginal component of the app’s business model.
According to Joost van Dreunen, a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, the company “only managed to convince 1.7 million people among its 221 million subscribers to play games on its platform daily.” The numbers reveal a “relatively low conversion rate and the reason why Netflix will argue it is playing the long game,” he added.
Leanne Loombe, head of external video games at Netflix, said the streaming company is still “very committed to games,” as demonstrated by the Ubisoft deal, and is in the process of experimenting with genre and style to understand what the audience really wants.
“We’re still very early on right now; we’ve only been doing this for about 10 months,” she added.