You must try the hidden games in your phone’s Netflix app

Hidden away in Netflix’s endless main menu, where you typically scroll through its long list of shows – unable to decide what to watch – you may have come across a section called “Mobile Games”. Yes, a small library of games is also included with your Netflix subscription, and while they’ve been around since late 2021, not everyone may have tried them yet.

But do they stream games, like the now dead Google Stadia service? Or is it something different, and do you need one of the best smartphones to play it? We investigated to find out.

How Netflix Games Work

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Before trying Netflix Games on some smartphones, it is worth talking about how it works. It’s not like Google Stadia, where games stream to your device without needing to install anything, although Netflix is ​​best known for streaming. Instead, when you choose one of the games listed in the Netflix app, it transports you to your phone’s app store to download the game itself.

This means that the game you want to play is permanently installed on your phone, so make sure you don’t run out of storage space before committing. Games install as normal, but rather than logging in with Google Play Games or Apple’s Game Center, you log into the game with your Netflix credentials. These are exclusive titles and you cannot play them unless you have a Netflix subscription.

Logging in happens automatically and an added bonus is that all your game data is saved online and synced across all devices. if you’re playing on your phone, tablet, or TV, you don’t lose any progress. It’s also cross-platform, so you can start on an Android phone and continue on your iPad with all your game data intact. The final big plus is that the games are truly free, with no in-app payments enabled or having to pay to get better gear or fast forward in a game.

The phones we tried

Play Shatter Remastered on Netflix games.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There aren’t really any specific requirements to play the games Netflix offers on your phone, other than your phone running Android 8 or later, or iOS 15 or later. This covers dozens of devices, but is having an older or mid-range smartphone a barrier to trying out Netflix games? To find out, we played on the iPhone 14 Pro, Nothing Phone 1, and Google Pixel 4a.

Why these phones? The iPhone 14 Pro is one of the latest devices and features Apple’s new A16 Bionic processor, and should be considered one of the most capable smartphones you can buy. The Nothing Phone 1 is also a recent version, but it uses a more modest processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ – which is also designed for solid everyday performance and decent gaming. Finally, the Google Pixel 4a was released in 2020 and uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor. It is representative of many mid-range phones released during this period.

Play Netflix Games

There’s good news here, in that out of the three smartphones we tested, Netflix games ran smoothly. All opened the correct page in the App Store, and each downloaded without issue. I chose to play Xtreme Asphalt and Smash Remastered.

Play Asphalt Xtreme on Netflix games.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Xtreme Asphalt occupies 1.43 GB of storage space on Android, while Smash Remastered is 430MB, which gives you an indication of how much free space you’ll need on your phone if you decide to install more than a few titles. The iPhone 14 Pro played both games without any issues, which should come as no surprise.

However, more surprising was the Google Pixel 4a’s willingness to play Xtreme Asphalt, as the Nothing Phone 1 struggled when there was a lot going on, with an obvious frame rate reduction noticeable when the game was at its busiest. This had the unfortunate effect of making the game quite difficult to play at times. However, all three phones played Smash Remastered Perfectly.

Forget your phone, just play

Since Netflix Games simply takes you to install a game from the App Store, there are very few technical differences between the service and downloading any other “normal” game. However, the differences that do exist are positive and very welcome. Most notably, both of these games felt like titles you’d normally pay for or have to deal with lots of in-app purchases to play. Instead, you’re playing without interruption or reaching for your credit card.

The added bonus is that it doesn’t seem to matter what phone you own. Provided you have the Netflix app installed (and a vaguely modern phone that can play games already available in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store), you’ll be able to download, install, and play the exclusive titles available through Netflix Games.

There are currently over 30 games to download and play, here we pick the best Netflix game titles and also guide you to play them on your TV here. It’s a great addition to your Netflix subscription, with hours of potential gaming fun if you find a few titles you like.

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