Netflix hires veteran Mike Verdu to lead game development

Netflix has tapped gaming veteran Mike Verdu to fill the role of vice president of game development, a hire first reported by Bloomberg.

Why is this important: This is the first step of its new game initiative which the Netflix company has specifically acknowledged.

  • Last spring, The Information and we here at Axios reported that Netflix was expanding into gaming with a downloadable games site.
  • At the time, the company only said “we’re excited to do more with interactive entertainment.”

Between the lines: Verdu’s 36-year career in technology and games includes stints as head of EA’s mobile division, chief creative officer at Zynga, and most recently head of developer outreach for VR initiatives and Facebook/Oculus AR.

  • But Netflix isn’t yet talking about what it’s doing for them.

The big picture: Netflix’s move fuels speculation that it will introduce a game streaming service that runs high-end games and rivals the likes of Xbox Game Pass.

  • That may not be true. Last spring, sources at Axios told us to expect something closer to Apple Arcade: a suite of smaller, possibly downloadable games to entertain Netflix app users. Sources then warned that the plans are subject to change.
  • According to Bloomberg: “The idea is to bring video games to Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. Games will appear alongside current rates as a new genre of programming.

Compulsory indication : Netflix’s interest in games is rarely written without a cut-and-paste of CEO Red Hasting’s 2019 quote that “We compete with (and lose) ‘Fortnite’ more than HBO.” (Do!)

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