Netflix makes a play for online gaming

The announcement comes on the heels of news that former EA and Oculus executive Mike Verdu joined Netflix as the company’s new VP of game development.

India’s mobile-first gaming industry on the rise

Netflix’s push to enter the mobile-first gaming space comes at an opportune time for the company, which has been losing ground in some of its key markets including the United States and India. Analysts expect this initiative will prove to be rewarding for Netflix, particularly in a mobile-first market like India.

“With the smartphone first move, Netflix will be able to penetrate the Tier-2/Tier-3 cities in India which are not Netflix’s core user base. Numbers suggest that streaming platform users in these cities prefer vernacular and regional content. Adding gaming to content will add these users to the Netflix platform,” Anuj Kapoor, Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Ahmedabad, told The Hindu Businessline.

India is considered to be the second largest internet consumer market in the world, with more than 560 million internet users. With the ongoing COVID lockdowns, more consumers in the country are becoming digital converts as they go about their daily activities—from work and study to shopping and casual entertainment. Real money games in India is considered to be one of the fastest growing segments in the country, with fantasy gaming user base expected to reach 150 million in a couple of years, according to Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF).

An ENV Media study, which utilizes proprietary data from its properties including Indian affiliate SevenJackpots, likewise noted that “around half of all smartphone users in India” are playing mobile games, resulting in a spike in online casino searches for websites like in the past 12 months. According to ENV Media analysts, “the pandemic-stricken 2020 also pushed India to the top of global mobile game download rankings.”

“The amount of searches for mobile games have literally skyrocketed during the past 6 months. Indian players seem to prefer to play local table games such as Andar Bahar directly from their phone, instead of using traditional devices such as tablets or desktops,” ENV Media CEO and founder Mattias Bergehed said, according to a Live Mint report.

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