Netflix is testing gamertag-style handles that users can create and publicly display when playing its selection of mobile games, as first spotted by mobile developer Steve Moser (via TechCrunch). This should let members identify and invite other users to play games based on their handles, as well as see where they rank on leaderboards.
I got to experience the feature for myself after updating my Netflix app and downloading Into the Breach and Mahjong Solitaire. Netflix gave me the option to create and manage the game handle associated with my particular Netflix profile in both games. Just like creating your gamertag (or public-facing username on any other gaming platform), your game handle must be unique, which Netflix will automatically check once you input the name of your choice.
“Your game handle is a unique public name for playing games on Netflix,” the in-app text reads when first creating your handle. “Your profile icon and name (Emma) won’t be visible to others. You can change your game handle at anytime.”
After tapping into 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,” and indicates that you’ll be able to check when certain users are online or offline, creating a sort of social experience within its games. When I played around 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 to The Verge that Netflix started rolling out game handles in select titles last month, including Into the Breach, Bowling Ballers, Heads Up!, and Mahjong Solitaire. It’s not clear if and when Netflix plans on rolling out game handles to more of its games, though.
“We are always looking to improve our member’s experience on the service, and are exploring different features to enrich the Netflix mobile games experience,” Hidaka added. “We don’t have anything else to share at this time.”
Netflix first launched games last November, and they haven’t exactly taken off. A recent report from CNBC cites data from app tracking group Apptopia, which reveals that a measly one percent of Netflix subscribers, or about 1.7 million users, interact with Netflix’s games on a daily basis.
Netflix aims to include a total of 50 games in its library by the end of 2022, and just added Heads Up!, a game popularized by The Ellen Degeneres Show. In addition to a new ad-supported tier and a potential crackdown on password sharing, Netflix’s games could assume an even greater role as the company scrambles to get its wavering subscriber count back on an upward trend.
Disclosure: The Verge recently produced a series with Netflix.
Update August 27th, 3:17PM ET: Updated to add a statement from a Netflix spokesperson.