A New Netflix App Turns Your Phone Into a Game Controller

The streaming service is serious about expanding beyond mobile gaming

Screenshots from Netflix's line of mobile games. The streamer just launched an app that allows you to use your phone as a game controller for the TV.
Netflix's mobile games, now playable on a TV

For the past few years, Netflix has acquired gaming studios and launched about 50 mobile games. But a new app launch suggests the streaming service has ambitions far beyond a few phone-based titles. Per TechCrunch, the company just released Netflix Game Controller, an app that lets you use your phone as a controller to play Netflix’s games on your TV. No titles are available at launch (though the app weirdly already has one five-star review).

The App Store description reads: “Coming soon to Netflix. Play games on your TV with the Netflix Game Controller. This Game Controller app pairs with your TV and allows you to play games on Netflix using your phone or mobile device.”

Netflix Is Betting Big on Gaming. Here’s What That Means.
The streaming giant just acquired its third gaming studio after debuting a line of free mobile games in November

Given the failure of Google’s Stadia, another cloud-based gaming service, along with the entrenched role that consoles like the Xbox or Playstation have in the home, it’s hard to see this move as, no pun intended, a game changer. However, Netflix argues that the games are simply a free perk to your existing Netflix service. “It’s a value add. We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement,”  Netflix VP of Gaming Mike Verdu said back in 2022. “It’s a completely different business model. The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are.”

Still, not a lot is known about how the app will eventually work. “It’s unclear how the phone connects to your TV,” writes Gizmodo. “Will it connect via wifi, or will it rely on a compatible set-top box with Bluetooth accessory connectivity?”

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