News Brief

Why Apple Won't Let Netflix Play

  • Netflix entered the gaming world with its launch of mobile game service for Android customers.
  • But due to Apple's App Store guidelines prohibiting third-party developers from creating all-in-one gaming service apps, it is impossible for Netflix to launch it in any significant sense on iOS devices.
  • Bhaswati Guha Majumder Tuesday, November 9, 2021 10:41 am IST

    Netflix officially entered the gaming world earlier this month when it launched a mobile game service for Android customers. While the California-based OTT platform claims to be working on an iOS version of the service, according to a new report, Apple's App Store standards will bar Netflix from offering games through its app.

    Currently, Netflix's offering does not function as a traditional all-in-one gaming package. While there is a 'Games' option in the main Netflix app, the games must be downloaded separately from the Google Play Store and run as stand-alone apps.

    In this case, as per a Bloomberg report, the best strategy would be to follow the platform's current movie and TV show model, which allows users to find, download and watch content all within the Netflix app.

    Even while top gaming services—including those from Microsoft, Nvidia and Alphabet Inc.’s Google—are entirely cloud-based, Netflix is offering both online and offline games. Although this is fine in the case of Android, it is not acceptable on iOS.

    This is due to Apple's App Store guidelines prohibiting third-party developers from creating all-in-one gaming service apps. Those rules have made it impossible for Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia to launch in any significant sense on iOS devices.

    Cloud gaming businesses can only avoid this by offering their games via a web app, as Facebook has done.

    As reported by Bloomberg, Netflix will make its games available through the App Store. This means that people won't be able to download or play games from the Netflix app; instead, uses will only be able to launch them from there.

    On Android, the service currently works in this manner; the games are nicely bundled in a dedicated tab on the Netflix app but must be downloaded separately from the Google Play Store.

    The report highlighted the fact that this strategy is a viable one, but it will not best position Netflix's gaming service for success—additionally, customers also prefer all-in-one services.

    As a result, the Bloomberg report predicts that Netflix will eventually move its games to the cloud. Again, this would be fine for Android, but Apple's regulations make cloud gaming nearly hard to succeed, forcing services to settle with mediocre online apps. It's unclear what will happen to Netflix on iOS if and when the company decides to embrace cloud gaming.

    “To be a true all-in-one service on iOS, Netflix will have to make its move to the cloud—and Apple will need to change its rules or grant Netflix an exemption,” the report noted, adding “that leaves the ultimate success of Netflix’s service in the hands of Apple, a longtime partner but also a growing rival”.

    However, when Netflix made the official announcement about the launch of the games on 2 November, Mike Verdu, VP of Game Development, said in a statement:

    “Whether you’re craving a casual game you can start from scratch or an immersive experience that lets you dig deeper into your favourite stories, we want to begin to build a library of games that offers something for everyone. We’re in the early days of creating a great gaming experience, and we’re excited to take you on this journey with us.”

    Netflix ventured into the gaming world with five Android games. These are: Stranger Things: 1984 (BonusXP), Stranger Things 3: The Game (BonusXP), Shooting Hoops (Frosty Pop), Card Blast (Amuzo and Rogue Games) and Teeter Up (Frosty Pop).

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