Yes, Netflix has games and some of them are genuinely good


Knox Tamhankar

Netflix releases a catalog of games included with the subscription.

Venkata Sri Saiveer Chelliboyina, Perspectives Reporter

You see the cell-shaded water slowly swathe the sand on the beach, as the sunset casts an orange glow on the scene. A mysterious woman that seems to know you, is sitting beside you, while the tranquil sounds of the sea envelop—whoops, you blinked. Now you are in a completely different scene set later in time. This was the experience I had when playing Before Your Eyes, one of Netflix’s hidden gems among its obscured games catalog.

Video streaming service, Netflix launched a catalog of games last Nov. on their platform. Yet after nine months, the majority of Netflix users do not know that they have access to these games. The games are free to play as long as you have a Netflix subscription. They are similar to those that customers pay for on the App Store or Google Play. Netflix currently has 27 games in its catalog and aims to increase that number to 50 by the end of 2022.

According to CNBC, an app tracker called Apptopia “estimates an average of 1.7 million people are engaging with the games daily, less than 1% of Netflix’s 221 million subscribers.” In our survey with 19 randomly sampled students, 53% of students have not heard of Netflix Games, and 95% have not played any. The low player base is due to Netflix’s lack of marketing and a tedious process for accessing these games. This is a shame because some of the most memorable experiences I have had on my smartphone in recent times came from Netflix games.

Before Your Eyes is a game about blinking, as developer GoodbyeWorld Games puts it. The game tells the story of Benjamin Brynn reliving his past memories as he makes his way through the afterlife. The narrative touches on deep themes like grief, expectations, solitude, and death. The app uses eye-tracking technology to abruptly change the memory whenever the player blinks, creating a sense of longing. The eye-tracking is also used for inventive quick time events within each memory. The game’s mechanics combined with good audio design and a heartfelt narrative makes for quite a memorable experience. 

This is a True Story, is a slow-paced 2D side scroller that has the player on a long trek to fetch water in sub-Saharan Africa. The game is a collaboration with Frosty Pop Games and Charity: Water. This educational Role-Playing Game (RPG) aims to raise awareness for clean water scarcity in many areas. 

The style of gameplay was a little mundane, but I appreciated the beautiful art and the cause behind it. These new and innovative methods of storytelling are refreshing amidst the current ocean of cheap knockoff games and predatory monetization in the gaming industry.

Netflix also offers more lighthearted and silly games like Poinpy. The game is about a green blob collecting fruits to feed a blue beast before it becomes angry. 

Another game, Moonlighter, is a top-down dungeon crawler mixed with shopkeeping elements. There is also an assortment of card and puzzle games like Exploding Kittens and Shatter Remastered. Besides these games, Netflix has released projects on their own properties like Stranger Things 3: The Game. Netflix even has exclusive decks in the popular charades game, Heads Up

In a landscape of horribly marketed freemium games full of microtransactions, services like Netflix Games and Apple Arcade provide a cleaner alternative. If you have Netflix, then you already have access to this collection. If anything, at least try Before Your Eyes for the ingenious storytelling alone.