Netflix is reportedly getting into game development
Bloomberg reports that Netflix has appointed Oculus content vice president Mike Verdu to vice president of games development. According to Bloomberg, the hiring is Netflix’s first major move toward videogame expansion.
Netflix stated that it is “excited to continue with interactive entertainment”, following rumours that it planned to do exactly what we hear today: hiring game developers and making videogames. It seems that Netflix is getting into videogame development, as we said back then. But the pace seems to be picking up. Bloomberg reports that a source claims that Netflix will offer games within one year.
It’s unclear what exactly this will look like, but one thing is certain: Everyone is getting into video games these days. Google and Amazon have apparently struggled in the business (Google shut down its Stadia studios before making anything), but Netflix has already produced something that you can call a successful videogame. We enjoyed Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Although You vs Wild was less successful than You vs Wild, James enjoyed making Bear Grylls eat bear poop.
Although videos with options aren’t as good as New World, Amazon’s repeatedly delayed attempt at an MMO, I wonder if Netflix will give up on its “bear poo button”. Perhaps Netflix will follow the lead of other movie companies and start a major gaming studio before selling it off to EA or Disney. The latter will then shut it down. This would be the traditional approach.
Bloomberg suggests that Netflix’s move into gaming doesn’t only focus on interactive shows. However, it could start slowly and grow. A director of interactive product innovation is available at Netflix, according to the publication. The job listing specifically mentions Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and states that the department is creating “game-like experiences” and new ways to interact with stories. It doesn’t sound like a Sex/Life MOBA is what the streaming service is thinking right now. I would expect Bandersnatch-alikes at the moment.
Although Netflix’s start is slow, it shouldn’t surprise me if it experiences some major swings over the next few years. Netflix’s current value is in acquiring and developing exclusive TV shows and movies. Many streaming services offer this content. It would be more differentiated from other streaming services like Hulu, Disney, Hulu and HBO by adding game streaming. If game streaming is the future, as Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, and others seem to believe, why shouldn’t Netflix become the Netflix for games? If I was an investor, that’s what I would think.
It is perhaps not surprising that Netflix recently showed a greater interest in gaming. It collaborated with CD Projekt to host WitcherCon yesterday. The popularity of the games has aided the Netflix Witcher series and vice versa. There have been a lot more shows that are based on the games. The Castlevania series on Netflix is the best so far. There’s more to come. Netflix produced a Dota series that was not very good, but it has another season of that series and several Ubisoft shows, including an Assassin’s Creed live-action show and Far Cry anime.
Today’s biggest hire: Verdu was the VP of VR/AR Content at Facebook at the time of writing. However, making deals with Oculus games is only a small part of his entire career. Legend Entertainment was his co-founding venture, and he continued to manage it after its acquisition by Atari. After overseeing EA Los Angeles for almost seven years, he went to Zynga and founded a mobile developer. He later ran EA’s mobile gaming division for about a year. Verdu is featured in the credits of Unreal 2, Command & Conquer 3, and 4, as well as The Lord of the Rings The Battle for Middle-earth. Trivial side notes: EA LA is one of the shuttered movie studios I mentioned; it was originally DreamWorks Interactive.