Following months of speculation, Netflix has signaled its intent to move into gaming after confirming the hiring of Mike Verdu, a major figure in the gaming industry with high-level experience at the likes of Facebook-owned Oculus, Electronic Arts, Zynga, and Atari.
Verdu is being brought in to build and lead a team at Netflix geared toward game publishing, the video streaming giant confirmed to multiple media outlets on Wednesday, July 14.
Netflix is yet to make an official announcement about the precise nature of its gaming ambitions, but well-connected Mark Gurman of Bloomberg said the company is aiming to start offering games to subscribers on its platform “within the next year.”
A person with knowledge of the matter told Gurman that Netflix isn’t planning to charge extra for the gaming content, meaning that current subscribers will get a lot more bang for their buck — if they’re into gaming, that is.
Verdu will be reporting to Netflix chief operating officer Greg Peters, who during a recent earnings call hinted at the company’s gaming ambitions, saying there was “no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and an important sort of modality to deepen that fan experience.”
The California-based streaming platform will be hoping that adding a completely new strand to its offerings will attract new people to its service and cement the loyalty of current subscribers as it continues to compete with numerous rivals, among them Disney+, Hulu, and Apple TV+.
In other efforts, Netflix has also expanded into the podcast space with shows linked to its content, recently doubling down on its efforts with the hiring of former Apple executive N’Jeri Eaton who’s been brought in to lead podcast operations at the streaming company.
In its last quarterly report in April, Netflix saw a slowdown in its global subscriber growth, adding only four million from the previous quarter to bring the current total to 208 million. The company claimed this was partly down to the pandemic disrupting new productions, leading to a drop in output that may have caused some folks to look elsewhere. It added that boosting its subscriber base for the quarter ending March 31 was always going to be a challenge as it gained so many new sign-ups during the height of the pandemic in 2020 when more people were staying home.
By diving into gaming, Netflix will be hoping to boost its base once again, especially in its home market where growth has been particularly sluggish.