Grand Theft Auto V packaging and the Netflix logo are displayed on a phone screen in this photo taken in Krakow, Poland, on Oct. 18, 2023.
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Netflix announced Wednesday that it will make three “Grand Theft Auto” titles available to play for subscribers next month.
Rockstar Games‘ “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition” will launch Dec. 14 on the Apple App Store, Google Play and in the Netflix mobile app, the streaming media company said in a blog post. The release will include “Grand Theft Auto III – The Definitive Edition,” “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – The Definitive Edition” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition.”
Subscribers will not need a controller to play the mobile release, like most of Netflix’s 80-game library. Rockstar Games originally released “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition” for consoles and PC platforms in November 2021.
The games are a big get for Netflix, as its mobile games lag behind other publishers in downloads. “Grand Theft Auto” is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, shipping more than 405 million units worldwide, according to data firm Statista.
It’s not the first time Netflix has gotten its hands on a big-name franchise. Netflix released “Sonic Prime Dash” earlier this year for mobile platforms. The title is based on Sega’s “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which is the gaming company’s best-selling franchise, according to Statista.
It’s unclear if licensing another popular franchise will lead to more subscribers downloading the games — or if the releases will attract new Netflix subscribers.
“Netflix’s addition of GTA is by far its most promising game launch and shows Netflix is getting more serious about gaming,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Ross Benes. But the mobile platform may limit gameplay, he added.
“Playing ‘Vice City’ or ‘San Andreas’ on your phone is a cool feature for existing subscribers,” but don’t expect new subscribers to sign up just to “access a game they’re probably already familiar with so that they can play it in an inferior format.”
The company has started testing games on larger-screen devices, Netflix said in August. The beta test requires gamers to use their phone as a controller when playing on the TV.
It has been two years since Netflix announced its push into gaming, and the efforts have puzzled Wall Street and industry experts alike. The streaming giant has outwardly maintained a rosy outlook for its gaming efforts, despite recent download data that implied less than 1% of subscribers played a Netflix game on a daily basis.
Netflix’s gaming trajectory is not different from what the gaming company has seen when launching other new initiatives, Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month.
“When we’ve launched a new region — or when we launched new genres, like unscripted” we had to “crawl, walk, run, but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity to build a long-term center value of entertainment,” Peters said.
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