Netflix Adds Two New Mobile Video Games, Upping Catalog to More Than 90 Titles

Netflix Feb. 26 announced the availability of two new mobile video games, upping its catalog of mobile-only games to more than 90 titles since entering the market in 2021.

The new games include game publisher Ubisoft’s Rainbow: SMOL, based on the “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” franchise, and Zen Studio’s arcade game Pinball Masters available to all Netflix subscribers on Android and iOS devices without ads or in-app purchases.

In Rainbow, players are “recruits” with a mission is to kick doors down, deal with cultists and liberate the world of Smol from the mysterious threat that looms over it.

Pinball Masters enables users to flip their way through themed arcade tables featuring characters such as Godzilla and Kong. Players try to climb the leaderboards or beat their own highest scores in single player mode.

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Despite a reported 1.7 million daily users of its mobile games, more than 99% of Netflix’s 260 million global subs do not play games. The streamer is attempting to alter the percentages by expanding game access to the television — where the majority of Netflix’s gaming competition exists.

Last April, Netflix announced the first beta tests of cloud-based games to U.K. and Canada subscribers available on TVs and PC computers.

Circana: ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ Top-Selling Video Game in 2023 as Industry Embraces Streaming

The video game market may be embracing subscription streaming and artificial intelligence (AI) along with the rest of the entertainment industry, but at the same time, legacy physical and digital media remain popular among consuming gamers.

According to Mat Piscatella, executive director of games research at Circana, there is no exclusive distribution model for gaming, but rather a mix of premium sales, subscription, add-on content, streaming and future business models that have not been thought of yet.

Chicago-based Circana reports Warner Bros. Games’ Hogwarts Legacy was the top-selling video game in 2023 across both physical and digital channels with more than 22 million unit sold.

“Whether it’s Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox or Call of Duty, the most successful games are everywhere and available for play on just about anything — whether a dedicated device or streamed on a remote play device,” Piscatella wrote in a post.

The analyst believes the gaming industry remains fluid and highly adaptable in consumer trends and economic pressure.

“Games are living, breathing things that change over time,” Piscatella wrote, adding that the video game market will learn from the pitfalls both the music and movie industries endured embracing streaming video.

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“It’s easy to look at other industries that went through a subscription or streaming revolution and say, ‘Well, the music industry went this way. The movie industry went this way. Games are going to follow it eventually,'” Piscatella wrote. “The gaming industry will follow those models in some respects, but in other respects, it won’t.”

2023 Top 10 Selling Video Games Physical/Digital

Rank Title Publisher
1 Hogwarts Legacy Warner Bros. Games
2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (2023) Activision Blizzard
3 Madden NFL 24 Electronic Arts
4 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Sony Interactive
5 The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Nintendo
6 Diablo IV Activision
7 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (2022) Activision
8 Mortal Kombat 1 Warner Bros. Games
9 Star Wars Jedi Survivor Electronic Arts
10 EA Sports FC 24 Electronic Arts

Netflix Eyeing More Exclusive Video Game Licensing, Distribution

Netflix’s move into video games has been measured, with the streamer only expanding access beyond portable devices last summer. Following the success of licensing select “Grand Theft Auto” catalog titles, Netflix plans to expand licensing well-known third-party titles, in addition to producing original games based on proprietary IP.

Speaking on the Jan. 23 fiscal webcast, co-CEO Greg Peters said licensing third-party games would remain a priority going forward.

“One of the things that we’ve learned is that recognizable games, that’s either existing popular game titles, game franchises or games that are based on well-known IP, [including] IP from our own films and series, those are the ones that are working the best for us right now,” Peter said.

The executive said Netflix has seen positive results from its exclusive mobile access (since last November) to soccer-based Football Manager 2024, as well as original games based on proprietary series such as “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”).

“You’ll [also] see it this quarter with titles like ‘Virgin River,’ so that’s definitely the strategy that we’re on, and you’ll see us do more of that [going forward],” Peters added.

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Technovio: Gaming Market Size to Grow by $102 Billion from 2022 to 2027

The size of the gaming market is projected to grow by $102.13  billion between 2022 and 2027, according to research and consulting firm Technovio.

The gaming market is experiencing notable growth driven by the widespread acceptance of AR and VR games, according to the firm. This growth is driven by various gaming platforms, from consoles and PC gaming to mobile devices. Esports, with the advent of VR and AR gaming, is reshaping the industry landscape. Streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming facilitate this growth, while gaming merchandise, peripherals, and in-game purchases further boost the market. Game engines and specialized equipment such as gaming monitors contribute to the market shift.

The gaming market is marked by the rising prominence of cloud gaming, according to Technovio. This shift impacts online multiplayer experiences, offering seamless access across various platforms for both single-player and cross-platform gaming. Furthermore, it revitalizes retro gaming through game mods and innovative gaming software, according to the firm. Cloud gaming’s influence extends to game development and improves gaming communities.

Meanwhile, the gaming market faces a significant hurdle in the form of loot box regulation, impacting gaming publishers, developers and associated stakeholders, according to Technovio. This challenge affects gaming content creation and journalism, constraining the role of gaming influencers in promoting titles. The regulation issue also intersects with gaming accessories and hardware, influencing gaming events’ dynamics.

“Balancing consumer interests while ensuring fair practices is a complex challenge to sustain the market’s growth amid evolving regulatory landscapes,” according to Technovio.

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The market share growth by the casual gaming segment will be significant during the forecast period, according to the firm. By licensing gaming software to the final users, freelance service providers make a profit. The segment’s increasing popularity is due to its simple accessibility where games can be picked up and played from a range of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, or personal computers.

As far as regions, the Asia-Pacific market (APAC) is estimated to contribute 53% to the growth of the global market during the forecast period.

Alliance Doubles Down on Disc Business to Fill Void Left by Ingram Exit

The Blu-ray Disc and DVD marketplace took a big hit when — on the eve of the fourth quarter — major distributor Ingram Entertainment announced it would exit the business.

Alliance Entertainment executives say their company is filling that void, stepping up in the wake of the announcement.

The company has added business from many key accounts, some new to Alliance and some who have shared business between the distributors.  These accounts include Baker & Taylor, Walmart.com, Bluestem, Vintage Stock, Hallmark (franchise stores), Bull Moose, Zia, and Diabolik, amongst others.  Additional work continues to onboard other key accounts via the e-commerce and grocery channels.

“There will also be some gains with accounts that we had previously shared with Ingram, such as Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters and Rarewaves,” says Carlos Franca, VP, ecommerce sales and operations.

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The goal has been to ensure that there is no interruption of service to retail partners during the fourth quarter and to pave the way for strong, ongoing relationships with all involved, executives say.

Alliance’s Distribution Solutions division, who sold home media products directly to Ingram, pivoted immediately to assist the Alliance sales teams in securing accounts quickly.  “Our previous knowledge and direct relationships with many on Ingram’s account base helped prioritize and insure account coverage during Q4,” says Kevin Quigley, senior director of sales for Distribution Solutions.

Alliance’s broad reach across numerous classes of trade gave these accounts an immediate and reliable solution, executives say. These classes of trade include ecommerce, independent retail, grocery/general merchandise, and specialty shops.  Within hours of Ingram’s closing announcement, the Alliance Entertainment sales team began to contact and secure business from these stranded accounts, ensuring they had stock on the shelves for Q4, credit lines secured, data and EDI feeds linked, and more. Alliance sprang into action and was able to normalize business for most of these accounts before Oct. 31, when Ingram largely stopped shipping to their account base.

“Alliance stepped in, to secure key accounts from all parts of the business, including movies, music and video games,” adds Ken Glaser, Alliance SVP of sales. “We have aligned with our studio, publisher, and label partners to ensure nothing is left behind. Additionally, we’ve been able to hire some Ingram account managers to help ensure a smooth transition and continue to maintain a high level of service for these accounts.”

“We continue to work closely with these customers, many with which we have previous relationships with, serving other parts of their business. Many customers will benefit from our larger breadth of inventory, especially those aligning on the ecommerce front.”

 

Sony PlayStation 5 Tops 50 Million Console Unit Sales in Three Years

Sony Interactive Entertainment Dec. 20 announced the PlayStation 5 console has surpassed 50 million units sold through to consumers, three years after its Nov. 2020 launch.

“Achieving this PS5 sales milestone is a testament to the unwavering support of the global PlayStation community and their passion for the incredible experiences created by the talented developers from PlayStation Studios and our partners,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a statement. “We’re grateful for all of our players who have joined the PS5 journey so far, and we’re thrilled that this is the first holiday season since launch that we have a full supply of PS5 consoles – so anyone who wants to get one can get one.”

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It’s been the biggest November for PlayStation consoles sold through to consumers, according to the company, driven by recent hits such as the Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from Insomniac Games, as well as partner titles including Baldur’s Gate 3 from Larian Studios and Alan Wake 2 from Remedy Entertainment and Epic Games. EA Sports FC 24, the newest entry from the perennial sports favorite, and the PlayStation debut of Roblox have also been hugely popular with the community, according to Sony.

PS2 is still the top-selling console ever with 159 million units sold, according to analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Nintendo DS is No. 2 with 154 million units, and Nintendo Switch with 134 million.

HDR10+ Technologies Announces Compatible Digital Video Games

Industry group HDR10 + Technologies Dec. 14 announced the availability of new HDR10+ digital video game titles from third-party developers.

HDR10+ technology claims to offer content more brightness and contrast (4,000 nits); standardization; easier implementation; global certification; no licensing fees and compatibility with older HDR10 (1,000 nits). HDR10+ Gaming extends these benefits to game content and displays and automatically calibrates the HDR levels between them.

The titles include Nexon Studios’ The First Descendant, which is scheduled to be released in Summer 2024, and can be played on most current PCs; Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a first-person shooter game that serves as the third and final installment in the Modern Warfare Trilogy (and the eighth “Call of Duty” title to date).

The HDR10+ game was released on Nov. 9th; along with an updated HDR10+ Gaming GUI, which will be available in early 2024.

The HDR10+ Gaming enabled version of CD PROJEKT RED’s Cyberpunk 2077 and Phantom Liberty was released on Dec. 5, and is available for PCs.

“The use of HDR10+ technologies has grown exponentially to fully encompass a variety of platforms and providers,” Bill Mandel, co-manager of HDR10+ Technologies, said in a statement. “Now, with the availability of plug-in cards from NVIDIA, game studios and developers can also realize the full benefits of HDR10+ Gaming on certified monitors and televisions.”

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Circana: November Video Game Revenue Drops 7% Heading Into Winter Holidays

Sales of video games, hardware and accessories in November dropped 7% to $5.9 billion from $6.34 billion in the previous-year period, according to new data from Circana (previously The NPD Group).

The decline was primarily driven by a 24% plummet in hardware sales, which includes PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch, to $964 million from $1.27 billion last year.

Software sales, which includes packaged media and digital (retail and subscription), dipped 3% to $4.6 billion from $4.72 billion.

Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III was the top title in November sales, and remains the No. 2 selling title in 2023. The “Call of Duty” franchise has topped November software sales for five consecutive years.

Accessories sales, which includes controls, increased 3% to  $303 million from $295 million last year.

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Year-to-date, video game sales remain relatively steady with software revenue up 1% to $49.28 billion from $48.9 billion through the first 11 months of 2022. Hardware revenue is down 1% to $4.98 billion from $5.05 billion. Accessories are up 1% to $2.05 billion from $2.02 billion last year.

‘Grand Theft Auto’ Video Games Coming to Netflix Dec. 14

A compilation of Take-Two Interactive Software’s popular “Grand Theft Auto” video games is coming to the Netflix streaming service.

The streamer announced that Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is coming to the service on Dec. 14, free for Netflix subscribers on the App Store, Google Play, and on the Netflix mobile app.

Specifically, the “definitive” edition includes access to catalog titles Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, each updated for mobile use. The titles join Netflix’s catalog of 80 mobile games without any ads, in-app purchases, or extra fees.

“Grand Theft Auto” is arguably Netflix’s biggest video game license and one of the best-selling game franchises ever, with the most-recent release — 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V —  reportedly selling more than 190 million copies.

Michael Pachter, media analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said the fiscal value to Netflix subscribers is about $11.99, the cost the games would be if accessed as a download on an iPhone or Android device. Pachter said the offer is similar to Netflix offering access to two free movies like Uncharted or Gran Turismo.

“It’s worth something, but it’s not like [The Definitive Edition] is the latest installment,” Pachter said in an email. “Take-Two gets a ton of free publicity from reporters who don’t realize these games are so old.”

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Netflix Looking to Up Video Game Production Based on Original IP

Netflix is reportedly looking to up its video game profile by delving into original games based on its proprietary TV shows and movies, including “Squid Game,” Extraction, “Stranger Things” and “Black Mirror,” among others.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported that Netflix is looking to correct consumer misconceptions about its gaming initiatives that heretofore have revolved around mobile devices.

With Sony PlayStation closing its $69 billion acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard, Netflix is stepping on the gas reminding streamers about its games portfolio, which include pending launches of a game based on its hit “Wednesday” series.

In addition to licensing games Bloons TD 6 and Classic Solitaire, among others, Netflix is reportedly looking to license content from Take-Two Interactive Software’s Grand Theft Auto franchise.

The streamer added 5.9 million subscribers globally in the most-recent fiscal quarter, ended June 30. Netflix’s games have been downloaded 70.5 million times worldwide through September, up from 30.4 million a year ago, according to app tracker Apptopia.

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Netflix reports third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) fiscal results on Oct. 18.