Netflix Will Offer Video Games, Hires Former EA And Zynga Exec - Report
Netflix looks to be expanding into a new market with a foray into games.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Netflix is looking to get into video games, though plenty of questions remain and nothing is locked down and certain at this stage. The company has hired former Electronic Arts and Zynga executive Mike Verdu to lead its efforts in this area as its vice president of game development, the report said.
"The idea is to offer video games on Netflix's streaming platform within the next year," Bloomberg reported, citing a source close to the situation.
"The company doesn't currently plan to charge extra for the content," the report said.
The report goes on to say that Netflix is looking to expand its gaming team in the coming months, and some game development positions are already listed on Netflix's careers page.
Netflix has been involved with games before, through licensing deals like the one for its Stranger Things game, but Bloomberg reported that this deal is "much larger in scope."
Also, it's still early days. The report said Netflix has "yet to settle on a game development strategy. In typical fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there."
The Bloomberg report had no information on how users will play these games or what might be available. Netflix previously said it had no plans for a game-streaming service.
"No," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in December 2019 when asked if Netflix might make a game-streaming service. "We're really focused on doing incredible series and films and unscripted."
In January 2019, Netflix said the company competes more with Fortnite than HBO when it comes to entertainment usage. There are a finite number of hours in the day, and even fewer that people can spend consuming entertainment, so Netflix sees Fortnite as a competitor in that regard.
"There are a lot of other things people do to entertain themselves, including Fortnite. And the original quote was that we compete with Fortnite more than we compete with HBO. Fortnite gets a lot more hours of viewing," Reed said in 2019. "Ultimately it's about competing for those hours of viewing. But we don't compete with Fortnite better by doing something like [a streaming service] because we're not very good at that. We compete by doing the most amazing TV shows you've ever seen so you put down Fortnite and you come to watch our shows."
Axios reported that Netflix's push into video games should be seen as "a smaller Apple Arcade." The gaming content available on Netflix could include a mixture of licensed content based on Netflix IP along with "original work commissioned from independent studios." The content would be downloaded and not streamed, according to reporter Stephen Totilo, and Netflix's foray into gaming wouldn't come until 2022 at the soonest. It might also not happen at all, as plans could shift.
A Netflix spokesperson told Axios, "we're excited to do more with interactive entertainment."
Some may remember Netflix's ill-fated Qwikster service, which was a by-mail video game rental service that Netflix quickly abandoned. At the time, Netflix said it was still considering its options in the field of video games.
In the initial Qwikster announcement, Hastings himself spoke about how enthusiastic the Netflix audience was for games. "Members have been asking for video games for many years, and now that DVD-by-mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done," he said.
More recently, Netflix teamed up with The Witcher game developer CD Projekt Red for the first-ever WitcherCon event, which brought news about what's coming for the TV show and game series based off the fantasy franchise.
It's also been reported that Shonda Rhimes is working on a Bridgerton video game.
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