Netflix Adds Sixth In-House Games Studio: What’s The Plan?

Netflix Games is still in its infancy, having launched in November 2021, but it has now integrated its sixth in-house game studio. The latest acquisition is an independent video game studio based in Seattle called Spry Fox, founded in 2010 by David Edery and Daniel Cook.

Amir Rahimi, the vice-president of the gaming studio at Netflix, hinted at the fact that Netflix’s heavy investment into this space could be because they want to break the rules of gaming economics as it stands today – by having no ads or in-app purchases.

“Our games journey has only just begun, but I’m proud of the foundational work we’ve been doing to build out our in-house creative capacity so that we can deliver the best possible games experience — including no ads and no in-app purchases — to our members as part of their membership.”

Spry Fox will be joining Next Games, Night School Studio and Boss Fight Entertainment. All these studios offer very different types of games. Spry Fox has been in the video game business for the last 12 years. For some of these lesser-known studios to survive, this seems like the natural end-point.

Netflix Games Needs To Become Identifiable To Break In

The most well-known titles from the Spry Fox studio are Triple Town, Alphabear and Cozy Grove. All these games fall under the umbrella term ‘cozy games’. They are known for their harmless and wholesome nature.

A lot of video games are known for the challenges that they bring through testing the gamer’s intelligence through puzzle solving, but cozy games offer something different – they help the player unwind for a few hours, and aim to have a calming effect rather than draw persistent attention.

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Image Credit | Spry Fox

As big a platform as Netflix is with a subscriber base of over 221 million, if it wants to capture the games market, it has got to be identifiable in some way. The streaming service is no HBO with prestige dramas galore, or Disney+ with shows and movies that dominate the pop culture landscape, or even something like the movie streaming service MUBI with its curated world cinema offerings.

The service has a large and mixed catalog that could provide something all of these streaming services offer, while primarily standing out because it provided all the episodes from a season of its original series on release. It became a pioneer of binge culture when it burst through, and if it is to achieve something similar in the video game market, it has got to break the rules in some way.

Could Start A Cloud Gaming Or Virtual Reality Revolution

Cozy games seems like a good way to do that, but that feels like the domain of video game giant Nintendo for the time being. Cloud gaming seems like the obvious identifiable feature, but Google’s Stadia tried this before Netflix games, and is shutting down in two months. Netflix could, perhaps, take some important lessons from that failed venture, and see where Google went wrong as it seeks to enter that space.

There are also other avenues Netflix could consider. Virtual reality devices have their share of fans, but haven’t really captured the market yet. It looked certain at one point that this was going to be the future of gaming, and is also something Netflix games could tap into.

Making Moves In Recent Weeks

Netflix games currently offers 35 titles with 14 in development. The acquisition of Spry Fox was preceded by the opening of a new studio in Southern California, and the establishment of an internal games studio in Helsinki, Finland recently.

Those who speak for the company have suggested that it’ll take some time for it to meet its long-term vision. At the moment, it has 1.7 million daily users, which is not a solid ratio in comparison to its larger user-base. But, all in all, it looks like Netflix’s play is to be able to prepare for as many innovative ways into gaming as possible – do not be surprised if more studios are absorbed over the next year.