Netflix launches cloud-streamed video game test in the U.K. and Canada

Mike Wheatley

Netflix has said it has begun the first public tests of its new, cloud-streamed video game service. It’ll be offered to some subscribers in Canada and the U.K. first of all, giving them the opportunity to test a couple of different titles on select TVs and connected TV devices.


Netflix VP of Games Mike Verdu said in a blog post that the rollout is a “limited beta test” and will be offered to a small number of customers only, so not everyone in Canada and the U.K. will be able to access it. Though it’s only a limited launch, it could be a big step for Netflix as its ramps up its video gaming ambitions.

The company launched its first mobile games as a freebie for subscribers almost two years ago. To date, those games can only be accessed through iOS and Android devices. By bringing games to TVs and web browsers, the company is looking to tap into a much wider audience of large screen users, bringing it into competition with PCs and consoles.

For this week’s launch it will only offer two games, namely OxenFree and Molehew’s Mining Adventure, which is described by Verdu as a “gem-mining arcade game”.

Netflix gamers will be able to play the games using their smartphone. The Netflix app will transform the device into a game controller on Android devices, though iOS users are required to download a separate app. Alternatively, those who access the cloud streamed games on a PC can use their mouse and keyboard.

Netflix said the games will appear on a selection of devices, including Amazon Fire TV media players, Chromecast with Google TV dongles, Nvidia Shield media devices, Roku streamers and TVs, LG and Samsung TVs, and Walmart’s Onn device. According to Netflix, it will make more devices compatible on an ongoing basis. However, it didn’t say when it expects to add more titles besides the two announced so far.

Given that Netflix possesses just about the best expertise in the streaming business, we imagine the gameplay will be incredibly smooth. It needs to be, because any streaming glitches will be far more annoying in a video game, where every second counts, than in a TV show, where most people can tolerate the odd hiccup.

To date, the cloud video game streaming industry has yet to really threaten the dominance of PCs and consoles. Google ultimately decided to shut down Stadia, its own take on cloud video gaming, but Netflix will compete with services such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Amazon’s Luna.