Netflix is entering the world of video games. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that the streaming giant was expanding into video games in the coming year after hiring Mike Verdu, a former Facebook and Electronic Arts executive, as its new vice president of game development. A Netflix spokesperson has now confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Per Bloomberg, Verdu will report to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters. He was previously vice president of Facebook and was in charge of working with developers to bring video games to Oculus virtual reality headsets. He was also the SVP of mobile for Electronic Arts, where he helped develop mobile games such as: Plants vs Zombies 2, The Sims Freeplay, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.
Perhaps seeking an edge over competing streaming platforms in an increasingly crowded market, Netflix hopes Verdu will take some of that creative innovation with it to find a way to bring video games to the streaming service. By April, Peters had discussed the possibility of Netflix expanding, even mentioning gaming as an opportunity for a new avenue for content.
“We’re trying to figure out what all these different ways are … we can deepen that fandom, and games are definitely a really interesting part of that,” Peters said via CNET at the time. “There is no doubt that games will be an important form of entertainment and an important modality to deepen that fan experience.”
Last month, Liontree CEO Aryeh Bourkoff also predicted an expansion into other media for Netflix, declaring at the Tribeca X conference, “Amazon, if it were still offering books today, and that’s all, people would opt out. Companies should I think you will see a lot more companies offering products directly to consumers, even Spotify, even Netflix, offering more and more services. Why do Spotify or Netflix only have video or only audio? Why not gaming? Why not take a multi-product approach have, following what Amazon has done?”
Netflix has also experimented with interactive content in the past. Perhaps the most famous example is the black mirror movie bandersnatch, which literally had viewers control the story. Its interactive style wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but its innovation led to major accolades, including winning two Primetime Emmy Awards. This was the first interactive title intended for adults, as Netflix had previously released interactive programs for children such as cat in book and Minecraft: Story Mode. Since then we have an interactive Man against wild series and an interactive special for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
We can probably expect the company’s expansion into gaming to be a bit more complicated than these interactive titles after Verdu’s hire, though it’s still unclear exactly what Netflix has planned for the shift to video games. With the news being widely reported, more information is likely to follow soon. Meanwhile, it was also recently reported that Netflix would also be entering the podcast space after hiring former Apple and NPR exec N’Jeri Eaton as their first head of podcasts. News of Verdu’s hiring was first reported by Bloomberg News.
Topics: Netflix, Streaming, Video Games