Netflix Is Expanding Into Video Games

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Gizmodo 14 July, 2021 - 08:31pm 43 views

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Netflix Plans to Offer Video Games in Push Beyond Films, TV

Bloomberg Technology 14 July, 2021 - 10:02pm

Netflix hires former EA, Facebook exec to launch its own game division

Gamasutra 14 July, 2021 - 10:02pm

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Newsbrief: Bloomberg News is reporting that Netflix has hired former Facebook and Electronic Arts executive Mike Verdu to lead the company’s gaming division.

This news follows some rumors back in May that indicated Netflix was looking for a key executive hire to launch an Apple Arcade-like bundle of games.

The company has been toying with the video game world both in interactive projects like Bandersnatch, interactive children's games and a port of Minecraft Story Mode, while also licensing a number of games like Castlevania, DOTA: Defense of the Ancients, and Splinter Cell to punch up its animated shows.

Verdu previously worked at Facebook to help bring games and other content onto Oculus’ virtual reality platform, and was previously a senior vice president at EA Mobile.

In 2019, Netflix stated that the company "loses more customers to Fortnite than HBO." Now it appears to intend to go step into the fray with Epic’s Battle Royale phenomenon.  

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Netflix Could Add Games to Its Platform Within the Next Year | Digital Trends

Digital Trends 14 July, 2021 - 09:00pm

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.

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Netflix Will Offer Video Games, Hires Former EA And Zynga Exec - Report

GameSpot 14 July, 2021 - 08:02pm

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"The idea is to offer video games on Netflix's streaming platform within the next year," Bloomberg reported, citing a source close to the situation.

"The company doesn't currently plan to charge extra for the content," the report said.

The report goes on to say that Netflix is looking to expand its gaming team in the coming months, and some game development positions are already listed on Netflix's careers page.

Netflix has been involved with games before, through licensing deals like the one for its Stranger Things game, but Bloomberg reported that this deal is "much larger in scope."

Also, it's still early days. The report said Netflix has "yet to settle on a game development strategy. In typical fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there."

The Bloomberg report had no information on how users will play these games or what might be available. Netflix previously said it had no plans for a game-streaming service.

"No," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in December 2019 when asked if Netflix might make a game-streaming service. "We're really focused on doing incredible series and films and unscripted."

In January 2019, Netflix said the company competes more with Fortnite than HBO when it comes to entertainment usage. There are a finite number of hours in the day, and even fewer that people can spend consuming entertainment, so Netflix sees Fortnite as a competitor in that regard.

"There are a lot of other things people do to entertain themselves, including Fortnite. And the original quote was that we compete with Fortnite more than we compete with HBO. Fortnite gets a lot more hours of viewing," Reed said in 2019. "Ultimately it's about competing for those hours of viewing. But we don't compete with Fortnite better by doing something like [a streaming service] because we're not very good at that. We compete by doing the most amazing TV shows you've ever seen so you put down Fortnite and you come to watch our shows."

Some may remember Netflix's ill-fated Qwikster service, which was a by-mail video game rental service that Netflix quickly abandoned. At the time, Netflix said it was still considering its options in the field of video games.

In the initial Qwikster announcement, Hastings himself spoke about how enthusiastic the Netflix audience was for games. "Members have been asking for video games for many years, and now that DVD-by-mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done," he said.

More recently, Netflix teamed up with The Witcher game developer CD Projekt Red for the first-ever WitcherCon event, which brought news about what's coming for the TV show and game series based off the fantasy franchise.

It's also been reported that Shonda Rhimes is working on a Bridgerton video game.

Report: Netflix Is Adding Games "In The Next Year"

Kotaku 14 July, 2021 - 06:05pm

Netflix has hired Mike Verdu, formerly of EA and Facebook/Oculus, as “vice president of game development”, which certainly implies Netflix is looking at creating its own games rather than just licensing out others (though, like it does with its current lineup, it would likely do both anyway).

“The idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year”, the story says, while also reporting that “the company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content”.

Netflix executives have no doubt been looking at Microsoft’s growing success with the Game Pass platform and thinking, yes, this is something that we too could be doing, and making millions/billions from, just like Amazon have done (and fucked up), and just like Google have done (and also fucked up).

This is good news for...Netflix shareholders? I guess? But the more this industry starts leaning towards subscription-based services as a means of generating revenue, the more dangerous this all becomes to us, the people actually paying for and playing the games.

Take this recent Gamasutra story, for example, which shows Google is about to start giving developers a cut based on how long people play their game. That might be how TV series’ are judged but...is not how video games work, and will clearly prioritise the development of long grinds over shorter, more impactful experiences.

We’re in danger of heading that way anyways, given the metrics Microsoft must be sitting on from Game Pass and that Google would also have looked at to have instituted that policy in the first place, but Netflix getting in on the action just feels somehow even worse, given the company’s own obsession with “hours watched” and its ruthlessness in killing off shows.

Netflix working on its own gaming platform — which may never be available on the App Store

9to5Mac 14 July, 2021 - 06:03pm

As companies have been investing in new solutions for game subscription services, it seems that Netflix will soon join this club. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the giant behind the most popular movies and TV shows streaming service is now working on its own gaming platform. However, the availability on Apple’s platforms seems unlikely.

This was first rumored in May, but today’s Bloomberg report corroborates that a Netflix gaming service is indeed on the way.

According to the report, Netflix is taking the next step to expand its operations with gaming content. The company recently hired Mike Verdu to lead the gaming project. Verdu is a game designer who has worked for major game companies, including Zynga and Electronic Arts. He joined Facebook in 2019 as the head of AR/VR content for Oculus headsets.

At this point, it seems unlikely that Netflix will build its own console to offer games since the company is fundamentally based on online services. As for games, Netflix could have its own catalog with exclusive games — similar to Apple Arcade — or offer current, popular console games, similar to what Microsoft xCloud does.

In either case, it seems unlikely that this service will become available in Apple’s App Store. Apple strictly prohibits App Store apps from acting as an alternative store for apps and games. This led the company to reject Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud, and other similar platforms when they tried to enter the App Store.

Facebook also tried to launch its gaming service on iOS, but Apple unsurprisingly rejected it as well. Right now, the only way to use third-party gaming services on iOS is through web apps, which is far from being the best experience for users.

If Netflix tries to force its gaming platform into its main iOS app, we might end up seeing another “Epic v. Apple” fight in the future. Would Apple ban Netflix from the App Store for offering its own games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Filipe Espósito is a Brazilian tech Journalist who started covering Apple news on iHelp BR with some exclusive scoops — including the reveal of the new Apple Watch Series 5 models in titanium and ceramic. He joined 9to5Mac to share even more tech news around the world.

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Netflix hires Facebook gaming executive Mike Verdu as part of a deeper push into entertainment

CNBC 14 July, 2021 - 05:57pm

Netflix has hired video-game executive Mike Verdu from Facebook, where he was vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality content, as the company makes a deeper push into gaming.

Prior to his two years at Facebook, Verdu worked at gaming companies Electronic Arts, Kabam, Zynga and Atari, dating back to the late 1990s. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the hire, which Bloomberg was first to report.

Netflix shares rose 2% in extended trading on Wednesday.

The move reflects Netflix's ambition to go beyond offering television shows and movies to its more than 200 million subscribers. Like the streaming business, online gaming is getting more competitive, as Amazon, Google and Microsoft are all investing in the category.

Netflix has been slowly making its way into the market for about two years. The company said at the E3 gaming conference in 2019 that it was releasing a mobile game based on the "Stranger Things" series, following an announced launch of Stranger Things 3: The Game for consoles and PCs. The company also said it was creating Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics as an adaptation of the Netflix movie "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance."

In its shareholder letter in 2019, Netflix pointed to the game Fortnite as competition. The Information reported in May that Netflix was seeking an executive for a push into gaming.

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Netflix snags former EA, Oculus exec to lead its video game efforts

The Verge 14 July, 2021 - 05:55pm

Mike Verdu is joining as VP of game development

According to Bloomberg, Netflix could offer games right next to its other streaming content “within the next year” listed as a new genre just like documentaries or anything else, without charging extra for the experience.

Verdu is a former exec who has experience with mobile gaming companies like Zynga, ran EA Mobile for a year, and most recently has been working at Facebook acquiring a series of Oculus game developers like BigBox VR, maker of Population: One.

On its last earnings call in April (PDF), Peters said “...we’re in the business of creating these amazing deep universes and compelling characters and people come to love those universes and they want to immerse themselves more deeply and get to know the characters better and their back stories and all that stuff. And so really we’re trying to figure out what are all these different ways that we can increase those points of connection, we can deepen that fandom.”

“And certainly, games is (sic) a really interesting component of that... And there’s no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and an important sort of modality to deepen that fan experience. So we’re going to keep going, and we’ll continue to learn and figure it out as we go.”

Netflix gaming forays have included interactive features like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Carmen Sandiego, as well as licensed games including a Stranger Things title for mobile devices. It also currently has a few job listings for positions producing and leading interactive products, postings that don’t mention the word gaming, but show it’s staffing up with people who have the experience necessary to help that division get off the ground.

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