Netflix is testing gamertag-style handles that users can create and display publicly when playing its mobile game selection, as first noted by mobile developer Steve Moser (through TechCrunch). This should allow members to identify and invite other users to play games based on their handles, and see where they rank.
I got to experience the feature myself after updating my Netflix app and downloading it in the breach and Mahjong Solitaire. Netflix gave me the ability to create and manage the game handle associated with my specific Netflix profile in both games. Much like creating your gamertag (or public username on any other gaming platform), your game handle must be unique, which Netflix will automatically check once you enter the name of your choice.
“Your game handle is a unique public name for playing games on Netflix,” reads the in-app text when you first create your handle. “Your profile icon and name (Emma) are not visible to others. You can change your game handle at any time.”
After tapping the “Learn more” menu, Netflix explains that you can use game handles when inviting and playing with other members. It will also “show you where you are on leaderboards”, indicating that you can check when certain users are online or offline, creating a kind of social experience within its games. When I played with the new feature, I didn’t see any options to invite friends or view leaderboards, so this may not be available yet.
Netflix spokesperson Kumiko Hidaka confirmed that The edge that Netflix started rolling out game handles in select titles last month, including in the breach, bowling ball players, Heads up!and Mahjong Solitaire. However, it’s not clear if or when Netflix plans to roll out game handles to more of its games.
“We are always looking to improve our members’ experience with the service and are exploring various features to enrich the Netflix mobile game experience,” Hidaka added. “We have nothing else to share at the moment.”
Netflix first launched games last November and they haven’t really taken off yet. A recent report from CNBC cites data from app tracking group Apptopia, showing that a meager one percent of Netflix subscribers, or about 1.7 million users, interact with Netflix games on a daily basis.
Netflix aims to have a total of 50 games in its library by the end of 2022, and that just added Heads up!, a game popularized by the Ellen Degeneres show. In addition to a new ad-supported tier and a potential password-sharing crackdown, Netflix’s games could play an even bigger role as the company works to get its hesitant subscriber count back on an upward trend.
Revelation: The edge recently produced a series with Netflix.
Update August 27, 3:17 PM ET: Updated to add a statement from a Netflix spokesperson.