Yes, Netflix has some excellent games, but no one’s playing them. According to a recent report, less than 1 percent of people who subscribe to the streaming service actually avail themselves of its free games. That stat surely isn’t helped by the process you’ve gotta go through to play, which, while not totally byzantine, is more complicated than it needs to be.
Netflix signaled its foray into games early last year, when it kickstarted a talent hunt for execs from the gaming industry. By November, the streamer added five games to its mobile app, though the initial offerings were disappointing, to say the least. (Who really needs more phoned-in games based on Stranger Things?)
Now, the library—which is playable at no extra cost to subscribers—contains some true diamonds in the rough, like the tactical game Into the Breach, the physics platformer Poinpy, roguelike-lite Moonlighter, and the narrative gut-punch Before Your Eyes.
For now, you can’t play Netflix games on a smart TV or, ironically, a gaming console’s Netflix app. You’ll need either an Android device (updated to at least the Android 8.0 software) or an Apple mobile device (running iOS 15 or later). From there, follow these steps:
- Open the Netflix app, then scroll down until you see the Games row. There’s no separate tab that collects all the games together.
- Click on the game you want to play. That’ll take you to the storefront for your device—App Store for Apple phones and tablets, Google Play for Android ones—at which point you’ll be prompted to download the game onto your phone. It’ll show up as an unrelated app, though you’ll see the Netflix logo in the upper left hand corner of its icon.
- When you boot up the game, it’ll ask you which Netflix account you’re using. (Once you sign into one game, it seems to keep you logged in for other games, too.)
Sure, it’d be nice to just…play these games inside the Netflix app—y’know, the same way you watch any of the service’s movies or TV shows. Still, the process isn’t terrible. This morning, I tried Into the Breach, which recently received an expansion so large it may as well be a sequel, and found it just as fun on mobile as it is anywhere else. I also messed around with Poinpy and had to tear myself away after the tutorial or else it would’ve legitimately derailed my day. Man, what an instantly compelling little game…
There are some quirks, however: I couldn’t get the audio for either game to work unless I plugged in headphones. (Subway riders of the world should rejoice knowing that Netflix’s wave of free games won’t contribute to the cacophonous noise pollution that already plagues America’s transit systems.) And the service isn’t quite on the scale to compete with some of the biggest mobile-gaming subscription services, like, say, Xbox Game Pass or Apple Arcade. But as an avenue for a handful of easy-access games, I’m impressed.
Currently, Netflix supports the following games, though notes that not all games are available on all devices:
- Arcanium: Rise of Akhan
- Asphalt Xtreme
- Before Your Eyes
- Bowling Ballers
- Card Blast
- Dominoes Café
- Dungeon Dwarves
- Dragon Up
- Exploding Kittens
- Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story
- Into the Breach
- Into the Dead 2: Unleashed
- Krispee Street
- Mahjong Solitaire
- Relic Hunters: Rebels
- Shatter Remastered
- Shooting Hoops
- Stranger Things: 1984
- Stranger Things 3: The Game
- Teeter (Up)
- This is a True Story
- Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt
- Wonderputt Forever
Netflix plans to bring that number to 50 before April of next year, per The Washington Post’s reporting. That tally will eventually include games developed in-house, too. Last year, it acquired Night School, the studio behind hit adventure game Oxenfree. (Night School showcased the sequel, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, at this year’s Tribeca Festival.)
It’s unclear if there are any plans to make games available natively within the primary Netflix app, or to spin off the game library into a supplemental application. When reached for comment, a Netflix spokesperson directed Kotaku to a company blog post published last November.
“We launched games on our service less than one year ago,” the spokesperson said. “It’s still early days and we recognize that we have much more work to do to deliver a great Netflix mobile games experience.”