Netflix Games Is Doomed To Failure If It Won’t Promote Its Best Games

Did you know Oxenfree 2 is free-to-play if you have a Netflix subscription? I did, but only because I reviewed it. Check the game’s website and you’ll find Netflix sitting pretty next to all the other platforms Oxenfree 2 has been released on. Yet despite the indie being fairly highly anticipated, and possibly the biggest game with a day one launch on the streaming platform thus far, Netflix hasn’t been making much kerfuffle about it. The first Oxenfree was critically acclaimed, with nominations at The Game Awards and the BAFTAs. You’d think that Netflix would capitalise on that to call attention to its largely overlooked game collection, but seems to barely market its games at all.


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I’m finding myself extremely confused by all the talk of Netflix being the next big thing in mobile gaming. Of course, I understand the appeal of a subscription service. I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which is largely heralded as the Netflix of games, but that’s kind of the problem – Netflix isn’t the Netflix of games. When people hear about a cool new game, they don’t think, “I’ll check if that’s on Netflix,” they think, “I’ll check if that’s on Game Pass”. That’s largely because Netflix specialises in mobile ports and games, but it’s also because its library is chock-full of filler. Most of Netflix’s games aren’t winners, but there’s good reason to expect that that might change in the future, since there are tens of games in development with partners and some being developed by in-house game studios as well.

Related: For Me, Oxenfree 2 Was An Allegory For Substance Abuse

Oxenfree 2 could have been a huge pull for Netflix. It wouldn’t have been a flagship game by any means, but it could have at least garnered the platform some publicity in the gaming sphere. Right now, there are a couple of great games on Netflix, and absolutely nobody knows about them. Laya’s Horizon was pretty damn good, but didn’t make waves outside of a small circle of critics. Alongside the brand spanking new Oxenfree 2, cult favourite Oxenfree is available on the platform as well. Immortality is on there, and so is Into The Breach, Spiritfarer, and Terra Nil. Valiant Hearts 2, a similar day and date launch sequel to a beloved if under-appreciated indie, suffered the same fate.

Oxenfree 2

What’s the point of acquiring studios, giving them resources to create games for your platform, and then not bragging about it far and wide? Everybody knows about Xbox day one exclusives, because that’s a huge draw of the service. You’re subscribed to the service, so you get to play immediately at no extra cost to you. Microsoft knows this is important to people, and makes a point to be explicit about which games will be available on day one in its game showcases. But nobody knows about day one launches on Netflix, because they aren’t talking about the service at all. If I hadn’t been reviewing Oxenfree 2, I would’ve liked to know that I could play it for free with my family Netflix account. I would’ve liked to know that it was there at all, but Netflix’s publicity for its games are sorely lacking.

I have a suspicion that, as Netflix seems to be trying to develop a triple-A game and is working on cloud gaming, it’s avoiding launching the service into the mainstream until it has secured bigger projects to establish itself more firmly into the industry. But what it has chosen to do in the meantime – namely, create a service plagued with games of very little substance – has only made Netflix’s games arm look like a failure waiting to happen. If this is all it has to offer, Netflix games won’t last very long. There’s likely more in the pipeline, but Netflix is inexplicably keeping mum about the virtues it does have, and that’s no way to promote a service.

Next: Oxenfree 2 Made Me Less Afraid Of Growing Older

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