Netflix is entering the world of video games. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that the streaming giant will expand into video games over the next year following the hiring of Mike Verdu, a former Facebook and Electronic Arts executive, as its new vice president of game development. A Netflix spokesperson has since confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
According to Bloomberg, Verdu will report to COO Greg Peters. Previously, he was vice president of Facebook in charge of working with developers to bring video games to Oculus virtual reality headsets. He was also Senior Vice President of Mobile Devices for Electronic Arts, where he helped develop mobile games such as Plants versus Zombies 2, The Sims Freeplay, Y Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
Perhaps looking to get an edge over competing streaming platforms in a market that is becoming increasingly crowded, Netflix is hoping that Verdu will bring some of that creative innovation to find a way to bring video games to the streaming service. In April, Peters had addressed the possibility of Netflix expanding and even named games as a possibility for a new avenue of content.
“We’re trying to figure out what all these different ways are … we can deepen that fandom, and certainly games are a really interesting component of that,” Peters said at the time, via CNET. “There is no doubt that the games will be an important form of entertainment and an important modality to deepen the experience of the fans.”
Last month, Liontree CEO Aryeh Bourkoff also predicted an expansion to other media for Netflix, stating at the Tribeca X conference: “Amazon, if it was still offering books today, and that’s it, people would stop Do it. Businesses have to evolve. I think you’ll see a lot more companies offering direct-to-consumer products, including Spotify, even Netflix, offering more and more services. Why does Spotify or Netflix only have video or only audio? Why not have games? Why not have a multiproduct approach, following what Amazon has done? “
Netflix has also experimented with interactive content in the past. Perhaps the best known example is the Black mirror movie Bandersnatch, which literally had viewers controlling the story. The interactive style wasn’t a hit with everyone, but its innovation garnered high praise, including winning two Primetime Emmys. This was the first interactive title aimed at adults, as Netflix had previously released interactive shows for children such as The cat in the book Y Minecraft: story mode. Since then we have seen an interactive Man against nature series an interactive special for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
We can probably expect the company’s expansion to games to be a bit more complex than these interactive titles after Verdu’s hiring, although it is not yet clear exactly what Netflix has planned for the move to video games. With the news being widely reported, more information is likely to be out soon. Meanwhile, it was also recently reported that Netflix would also be moving into the podcast space after hiring former Apple and NPR executive N’Jeri Eaton as its first podcast boss. The news of Verdu’s hiring was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Topics: Netflix, Streaming, Videogames