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

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

July 14, 2021 | By Bryant Francis

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.

George Jijiashvili, a principal analyst at Gamasutra's research partner, Omdia, observed that Netflix has a lot to gain by not charging in whole-hog on a triple-A model. "Netflix will enter gaming cautiously, having learned from Amazon’s and Google’s mistakes," he explained in an e-mail.

"Instead of diving into AAA gaming head first, we envisage Netflix first experimenting with simple, family-friendly, HTML5 multiplayer games, with a TV remote or smartphone serving as a controller. Those games would be available within the Netflix app, primarily serving as a complementary experience intended to increase engagement and keep people on Netflix for longer."

Analyst Stephen Bailey concurred. "There’s a lot [Netflix] could be doing to complement video games that needn’t involve direct development or publishing, in terms of cross-promotion, distribution, technology etc."

"If there’s anything Netflix is doing right now, it’s busily considering its wealth of possible options."

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