Earlier this month, Netflix's new gaming service became globally available across both iOS and Android with a debut lineup that included two "Stranger Things"-themed games and a few more casual gaming titles. In the days since its launch, Netflix has expanded its lineup with two more games, including another casual game, Bowling Ballers, and now, a reboot of Gameloft's Asphalt Xtreme, which officially shut down this September.
Bowling Ballers is another title from existing Netflix gaming partner Frosty Pop, which already offers two other games for the streamer's new service, Shooting Hoops and Teeter Up. Like the others, this latest addition is a simple game that's described as an "endless runner" for bowling, which also includes a level-based mode. And like all Netflix games, Bowling Ballers is ad-free and doesn't offer any in-app purchases.
— Frosty Pop (@hellofrostypop) November 17, 2021
The other new addition is a bit more interesting. Asphalt Xtreme was a fairly popular Gameloft title for a few years. It was the second spinoff from Gameloft's Asphalt series of action racing games and allowed players to go off-road to explore exotic locales while controlling a variety of vehicles, including rally cars and monster trucks. The gameplay would see the cars having to traverse difficult elements like water, rocks, sand, mud and snow.
The game was developed from August 2015 to September 2017 but was shut down entirely on September 30, 2021. By Oct. 1, 2021, it was no longer available on the app stores for download. Netflix then licensed the title from Gameloft to add to its mobile gaming collection.
Larger gaming publishers like Gameloft tend to shut down titles that have passed their prime and no longer generate the revenue needed to keep the game active. But a service like Netflix, it seems, could be an interesting new home for such IP, as its goal is not to develop a profit from the games directly.
This format of an all-access "gaming subscription" is already used by the various cloud gaming services, like Xbox Cloud Gaming or Stadia, as well as the retro gaming service GameClub and even Apple's own Apple Arcade.
But Netflix doesn't need the game subscription to stand on its own. Instead, Netflix sees these mobile games as a means of maintaining and growing its paying subscriber base by offering consumers a different type of entertainment beyond its TV shows and movies. Netflix subscribers can browse the available games inside Netflix's streaming app, but the titles themselves are listed on the respective app stores as free downloads. When users are ready to play, the games require your Netflix credentials to log in -- making them exclusive to Netflix members.
Bowling Ballers, which launched earlier this month, is available to global users. Netflix confirmed Asphalt Xtreme, which launched just this week, is now slowly rolling out to users worldwide. It will become available to U.S. users in the weeks ahead.