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Netflix tests idea of expanding gaming service to televisions

Netflix tests idea of expanding gaming service to televisions
Signage outside the Netflix office building on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, US, 19 April 2021. (Photo: Bing Guan / Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. is working to bring its nascent video-game service to television sets for the first time, moving beyond smartphones and tablets in a sign of its growing ambitions.

Code hidden within Netflix’s app includes references to games played on TVs, signaling that such a plan is in motion. The code also mentions using phones as video-game controllers.

“A game on your TV needs a controller to play. Do you want to use this phone as a game controller?” one line reads. The code was discovered by app developer Steve Moser, who shared the findings with Bloomberg News.

Netflix launched its gaming effort on iPhones, iPads and Android devices in 2021, releasing titles such as Into the Dead 2: Unleashed, Stranger Things 3: The Game and Card Blast. On Apple Inc. devices, the games are released individually through the App Store — in order to meet that company’s requirements — but they can be launched via the Netflix app and require a subscription to the streaming service.

The idea is to supplement Netflix’s shows and movies and help retain customers as the company raises subscription prices. Netflix has previously indicated that it wants to bring games to additional devices and is working on a more extensive cloud gaming service, but it hasn’t given a specific timeline.

A representative for Los Gatos, California-based Netflix declined to comment.

Expanding the offering to TV sets would be a key milestone. Netflix is now built into many smart TVs and available on a number of platforms, including ones run by Apple, Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Netflix’s plan to eventually launch a cloud gaming service would potentially let users stream games over the internet without installing them on devices. This approach would allow for a wider array of titles and turn Netflix into a competitor to companies like Microsoft Corp. and even providers of non-cloud gaming services such as Apple Arcade.

The findings in Netflix’s app code don’t guarantee that the company will follow through with the TV idea, but it does indicate what the company has been testing internally. Previous information within Netflix’s code revealed details of its new advertising push.

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