Netflix partners with Ubisoft to bolster fledgling games division

Netflix has teamed up with Ubisoft, one of Europe’s biggest video game companies, as the streaming giant seeks to bolster its fledgling gaming business.

The California-based streaming service will launch three new mobile games based on Ubisoft games next year, including its most successful title Assassin’s Creed.

The move comes as Netflix tries to accelerate the growth of its new gaming arm amid a slowdown in the company’s streaming business. The streaming group has lost more than half of its market value since April when it revealed its decade-long subscriber growth was over.

The partnership will involve the French games group developing the mobile games for Netflix. This will also include a game based on the one from Ubisoft Mighty Questa game of building castles and looting monsters, and the adventure and historical puzzle game called Valiant Hearts.

The games will be made available exclusively to Netflix subscribers, with no ads or in-app purchases, allowing Ubisoft to tap into new audiences and experiment with new formats for existing titles. No details on the value of the transaction have been announced.

Netflix entered the games business last year, hiring a number of top executives, as it joined the world’s biggest tech companies in a bid to grab a piece of the most valuable to the entertainment industry.

Big Tech groups, including Amazon, Facebook-owner Meta, Google, and Apple, have all ramped up their investment in video games in recent years, vying to become the “Netflix of gaming.”

Netflix has launched 28 games and acquired three game studios, including Night School Studio, which makes the supernatural adventure game Without beef, and Texas-based Boss Fight Entertainment. In March, it bought Next Games, the Finnish developer behind mobile games based on its hit show stranger things.

However, the company has struggled to convert much of its roughly 220 million subscribers into regular gamers quickly. There are around 1.9 million daily active users of Netflix’s mobile games, according to business intelligence firm Apptopia, and they’ve been installed 28 million times. In contrast, King, a popular game publisher that makes candy Crushhas about 30 minutes of active users per day.

Leanne Loombe, head of external games at Netflix, said the streaming company is still “very committed to games”, but is in an experimental stage, figuring out which styles and genres resonate most with its subscribers.

“Whoever our members are, we want to make sure there’s a game out there for them,” she said, adding that going forward “we’re going to start focusing more on Netflix IP because “that’s what we have a superpower in”.

The streaming giant plans to have a total of 50 games on its roster by the end of the year.

But its surge comes amid a broader downturn in the games sector, with console producers, video game publishers and gaming chipmakers reporting weaker sales and engagement in recent months. Last week, US technology group Snap, owner of social media group Snapchat, said it was putting its game plans on hold.

Loombe said the company is unfazed by a recent drop in gaming engagement, especially on mobile, noting that “people are still playing games. . . so there is still a huge opportunity for us”.

“You need a few hours to watch a TV series or movies, but you only need five minutes to play a game on your commute,” she added.

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