Netflix’s hiring of a former Facebook executive to oversee an expansion into gaming will be welcome news for investors who are fretting about the company’s ability to maintain its robust growth of the past few years. But no one should be under any illusions about the rocky road ahead for Netflix as it seeks to become a force in gaming.
This won’t be like video streaming, in which Netflix was one of the first entrants, with a hard to beat offering combining low price and decent programming. Gaming is a crowded field—everyone from Microsoft to Apple have competing services, not to mention services like Steam for hardcore gamers. What does Netflix have to offer? It could apply the formula that has worked so well in TV: well-designed tech, no advertising and low cost. But without a deep roster of games, the expansion won’t do much to draw in new subscribers or even help keep existing ones. (Given how well penetrated Netflix is in markets like the U.S., you have to think most gamers are already on the service.)