Whispers of Netflix entering the gaming space have been spreading for quite sometime, but the streaming giant has now made a major step in the planned expansion.
Netflix has hired Mike Verdu, former executive at gaming company Electronic Arts Inc. and Facebook Inc., as Vice President of its game development sector. The hiring marks a big move forward for the streamer’s gaming plans, which could see users able to play games on the platform within the next year.
As reported by Bloomberg, Netflix is looking to include a new programming genre of gaming that will sit alongside their current array of content, with reportedly no current plans to charge premiums for the games once they’re up.
Epic or bite sized?
There’s still no official word on what type of games we can expect to see and whether Netflix is looking to compete with the AAA studio leagues of gaming. The latter is unlikely, at least for the near-future, with various reports speculating that Netflix will be at first focusing on smaller mobile-style gaming that can also serve as cross-marketing content (such as the retro-pixel style Stranger Things games Netflix developed with gaming studio BonusXP). Mobile gaming is also an area of expertise for Verdu, who has reportedly worked on various titles in big gaming franchises such as Sims, Star Wars and Plants vs. Zombies.
Axios reports that Netflix will be developing something like “a smaller Apple Arcade,” referring to the high quality mobile games paying subscribers are offered on Apple’s end. “The Netflix offering,” Axios’ sources claim, “would consist of a mix of licensed Netflix intellectual property and original work commissioned from independent studios.”
Forbes also speculates that Netflix is, for now, entering the gaming space in measured fashion. “It feels like the goal is to simply get people to stay on the Netflix app for longer with a games section, rather than hopping over to other game apps on their mobile device,” writes reporter Paul Tassi. “More time in the app overall = better for Netflix. They have no ability to take on the major players in the gaming industry, which would require a colossal time and resource investment.”
News of Netflix’s gaming move saw quick attraction from investors, resulting in shares jumping around 2.8% to $563.45 in premarket trading on Thursday. But the excitement was short-lived. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, “by Thursday afternoon, they had sunk as much as 1.8 per cent in New York trading.”