Netflix to add gaming service amid subscriber slump
July 21, 2021 - Netflix has reported its worst slowdown in subscriber growth for eight years, adding just 1.5 million subscribers in Q2 2021. The streaming giant now plans to add video games to keep subscribers loyal.
A second quarter slump in new subscribers to Netflix, the world’s largest paid streaming service, is its worst performance since the first half of 2013.
After the boom of 2020’s coronavirus lockdown-driven subscriber boost, which saw government lockdowns sending people into binge-watching frenzies, the latest figures are disappointing but not unexpected.
The company blames this year's slowdown on pandemic-induced production delays that has left its video roster with fewer new hit shows than usual, but it is optimistic that subscriber numbers will rise again later this year as new seasons of hits shows like “The Witcher” return.
Also, in a rebuff to sceptics, Netflix announced it will offer free video games to existing subscribers – likely appearing sometime in the next 12 months.
To get the ball rolling, the streaming behemoth has hired gaming industry veteran, Mike Verdu, to serve as Netflix’s Vice President of Game Development, reporting to COO and chief product officer Greg Peters.
Verdu's resumé dates back to the 1990s in a career that has seen him work for Atari, Zynga and Electronic Arts among others – with involvement in hits like “Sim City”, “Plants vs. Zombies 2” and “FarmVille”.
Initially, the company will focus on mobile games – tied to its most popular shows – before eventually expanding to consoles and smart TVs.
Its planned service sounds not dissimilar to Apple's successful Arcade subscription gaming service, where users pay $4.99 a month to gain access to almost 200 ad-free video games playable across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac.