Netflix is getting into the video game world. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that the streaming giant was expanding into video games within the next year following the hiring of Mike Verdu, a former Facebook and Electronic Arts executive, as its new vice president of game development. A Netflix spokesperson has since confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter.
Per Bloomberg, Verdu will report to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters. He was previously Facebook's vice president 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 looking to get an edge over competing streaming platforms in a market that's getting increasingly crowded, Netflix is hoping for Verdu to bring along some of that creative innovation to figure out a way to bring video games to the streaming service. Back in April, Peters had addressed the possibility of Netflix expanding and even named gaming as a possibility for a new avenue for content.
"We're trying to figure out what are all these different ways ... we can deepen that fandom, and certainly games are a really interesting component of that," Peters said at the time, via CNET. "There's no doubt that games are going to 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 mediums for Netflix, by stating at the Tribeca X conference: "Amazon, if it was still offering books today, and that's all, people would churn off of it. Companies have to evolve. I think you will see a lot more companies that offer direct to consumer products, even Spotify, even Netflix, offer more and more services. Why have Spotify or Netflix just have video, or just have audio? Why not have gaming? Why not have a multi-product approach, following what Amazon has done?"
Netflix has also experimented with interactive content in the past. Perhaps the most well-known example is the Black Mirror movie Bandersnatch, which literally had viewers controlling the story. The interactive style wasn't a hit with everyone, but its innovation led to great accolades, such as winning two Primetime Emmy Awards. This was the first interactive title aimed for adults, as Netflix had previously released interactive programs for kids like Puss in Book and Minecraft: Story Mode. We've since seen an interactive Man vs. Wild series an an interactive special for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
We can likely expect for the company's expansion into gaming to be a bit more intricate than these interactive titles following Verdu's hiring, though it's still unclear exactly what Netflix has planned for the shift into video games. With the news getting widely reported, more information is likely to soon follow. Meanwhile, it was also recently reported that Netflix would be moving into the podcast space as well after hiring former Apple and NPR exec N'Jeri Eaton as their first head of podcasts. The news of Verdu's hiring was first reported by Bloomberg News.