Netflix will expand its streaming service to include video games “in the next year,” according a Bloomberg report. The streaming platform hired former a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive, Mike Verdu, to head up the project.
A report from The Information in May suggested Netflix was looking for a video game industry executive to expand its streaming lineup. It was reported at that time that Netflix is considering a “bundle” of games, like Apple Arcade. However, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that games in Netflix’s video game expansion will be added alongside the company’s current selections — “similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials,” according to the report. Games won’t cost extra, at least at this point in planning, it said.
Verdu has worked on The Sims, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars franchises. Netflix expects to hire more positions within its games division “in the coming months,” Bloomberg said.
A Netflix spokesperson told Polygon in May that the company is “excited to do more with interactive entertainment.”
Netflix has produced games before, alongside third-party developers: a Stranger Things mobile game and Stranger Things 3: The Game are among its titles. Netflix is also known for experimenting with interactive experiences via its streaming platform. In 2018, it created Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style movie; it expanded on that idea in 2020 for an interactive episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Game-inspired TV shows and movies have also been increasingly common as part of Netflix’s original lineup, with shows based on Dota, Castlevania, and The Witcher. More video game-inspired shows, based on Magic: The Gathering, Sonic the Hedgehog, and League of Legends are coming, too.
Famously, Netflix has said that its biggest competition for attention is not other streaming platforms. It’s games like Fortnite that Netflix competes with and loses to, the company said in 2019. More and more companies are attempting to build out what Epic Games calls its “Metaverse,” a virtual world that’s more than a video game. Fortnite and its gameplay remain a key draw for players, but video games are also now important social worlds. Players have always used these spaces as social hubs, but video game companies are adapting existing structures to add even more opportunity there. Not only can players chat with friends while playing games in Fortnite and Roblox, but people can now watch movies and attend live concerts, too.
Singular platforms are designed to hold more and more of our attention, and Netflix certainly wants a piece of that.