July 19, 2021
Netflix—marking its first big move beyond TV shows and films—is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to lead the effort, Fortune Magazine reports.
Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of Game Development, reporting to COO Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday, July17. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.
In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga between 2009 and 2012.
The idea, according to a source, is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, Fortune says. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre—similar to what Netflix did with documentaries and stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.
Netflix has been seeking ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the United States. That’s included building out its kids’ programming, opening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup.
The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, Fortune notes, but it added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.
Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months, according to the person familiar with the matter. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.
Ultimately, the move may make it easier for Netflix to justify price increases in coming years. Games also serve the purpose of helping market existing shows.
Netflix has previously licensed the rights to games based on its shows—including Stranger Thing—but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The Los Gatos, California-based company has yet to settle on a game-development strategy, said the person.
In typical Netflix fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there.
Research contact: @FortuneMagazine