Netflix is obviously known for its film and television offerings and now it’s venturing more into another medium. The streaming giant will reportedly start offering video games on its service sometime within the next year, but no more specific window was given. Netflix has not officially commented on this report.
Bloomberg reported on this news, saying that Netflix hired Mike Verdu, a PC and mobile gaming executive, as vice president of game development. He’s spent time at Zynga, Facebook, Electronic Arts, and a few other gaming companies as well. Verdu was most recently at Facebook and focused on getting games to the Oculus VR systems and “other devices.”
Netflix has had games in the past so this isn’t an entirely new development for the streaming service. Aside from its multiple interactive specials like Bandersnatch, You Vs. Wild, and Captain Underpants: Epic Choice-o-Rama, Netflix also has a port of a more traditional video game.
Minecraft: Story Mode’s first season landed on Netflix in 2018 around three or so years after its original debut on traditional gaming systems. It was part of a deal to bring Telltale’s games to the service. Being an adventure game that’s mainly about choosing dialogue options and not twitchy action, Minecraft fit the platform well. However, the second season was never ported, likely because of Telltale’s implosion around that time.
That deal shows that Netflix has dabbled in games in the past, but hiring a well-known gaming executive to lead the initiative shows that the company may be more serious this time around. Game streaming has had trouble taking off in recent years though, as evidenced by Google Stadia. The platform was almost universally criticized for multiple reasons before it eventually shuttered its internal studios in February 2021 and moved to trying to help other developers and publishers get their games to players, which is still work that’s allegedly happening behind the scenes. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud service is still in beta, but hasn’t been as widely condemned because it’s mostly an alternative way for people to play games they already have access to.