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Netflix lets the games begin for some TV, computer users

Offering two games to start, the limited beta test is aimed at select Netflix subscribers.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Netflix is testing gameplay on TVs and computers

Netflix is expanding its gaming platform from mobile devices to computers and TVs. In a blog post published Monday, the entertainment company announced a beta test now rolling out that would let people play games on Windows PCs, Macs, and TVs. Aimed at a select group of users across Canada and the UK, the test is Netflix's first step in making games accessible on large devices.

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For this initial rollout, two games will be available for beta testers. One is a supernatural thriller called Oxenfree from Netflix Game Studio Night School Studio. The other is a gem-mining arcade game named Molehew's Mining Adventure.

To play games on a TV, people will be able to use their smartphones as controllers. On PCs and Macs, the testers can use a keyboard and mouse to control the gameplay.

Netflix has been offering games since 2021, but so far they've been limited to mobile devices. Netflix subscribers will find a category on the home page called Mobile Games from which you can download and play an array of titles on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

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Through the limited beta, Netflix wants to test the streaming technology and controller use as well as improve the overall experience. By offering games on more devices, the company said that it hopes to make them easier to play for people around the world. But will gaming prove a huge enough draw to help Netflix retain existing subscribers and attract new users?

"Gaming is a huge retention driver when done right, so the transmedia retention of existing Netflix subs and new potential subs is significant," said Yoshio Osaki, president and CEO of gaming research for IDG Consulting. "But we're watching very closely how this will play out. For one, binge-watching behavior for TV and movies is different from binge-gaming. Even if a gamer has access to hundreds of games each month, they will likely only play 5-10 games maximum because games have higher replayability and immersion."

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Playing games on a TV for the beta test will require certain models or devices, including Amazon Fire TV streaming media players, Chromecast with Google TV, Nvidia Shield TV, Roku devices and TVs, LG TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, and Walmart ONN. But more TVs and devices will be added down the road.

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