Netflix has put its foot down. In light of the increasing competition it faces from people playing video games, rather than watching its movies and shows, it's made the decision to have its own games in the future. That's right, the streaming service has now hired a former executive at both EA and Facebook to take charge of a gaming division at the company as it expands the brand beyond film and TV.
Bloomberg reports that Mike Verdu has been appointed as the vice president of game development at Netflix. Verdu had previously worked with Facebook on the Oculus, helping developers bring their VR dreams to life, and he also worked on mobile games at EA, focusing on series like The Sims, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars. He definitely seems to have the breadth of knowledge to lead Netflix into a highly commercial, very sellable gaming niche that can utilise its massive streaming platform.
In case you missed it back in 2018, here is the trailer for Netflix's interactive Bandersnatch...
Bloomberg has talked to someone familiar with the matter and it sounds like Netflix is going to start offering games within the next year. Though that seems like it might be way too soon for it to be producing a title or two, the brand has already sort of made a game.
Does anyone remember the special, interactive episode of Black Mirror, Bandersnatch? Well, that's basically an FMV game (full-motion video game), where your decisions impact the flow of the story, leading to different outcomes. The entire episode is also about gaming, so all of those themes tie in pretty nicely. Netflix might well have looked at the success of Bandersnatch as support for entering the world of gaming - that, and the player numbers for its hosting of Minecraft: Story Mode, and other interactive shows and series like Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal and You vs. Wild.
In the long run, this could be a pretty good idea. Netflix has fostered some great TV and film on its platform under its own steam, and having more games to play isn't exactly a bad thing. However, it should be noted that gaming divisions at huge media companies aren't automatically winners just because they have a lot of money. Amazon, for example, has had trouble getting its gaming division to produce one successful game, even having to cancel their hero shooter-MOBA mix, Crucible. They're giving it another go soon with MMO New World.
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