Streaming platform Netflix is eyeing to foray into video games. Recent designation of Mike Verdu as VP of Game Development represents the first step in a huge plan of the company to seek new revenue streams. In this sense, increasingly, consumers are spending more time playing video games, which are the entertainment industry’s fastest-growing segment.
Verdu, who will be reporting to Chief Operating Officer, Greg Peters, joins Netflix from Facebook, where he had been working to expand the video game offering on Oculus virtual-reality headsets. In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as CEO for Zynga between 2009 and 2012.
The idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s platform within the next year. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre, similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials. The company doesn’t plan to charge extra for the content.
Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, co-CEOs at Netflix, have shared their interest in pushing into gaming in recent calls with analysts. They’ve also identified the battle-royale shooter game Fortnite as a competitor for its customers’ time.
Netflix has been searching for ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the U.S. This has included building out its kids’ programming, opening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup. The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, but it has added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.
Previously, Netflix has licensed the rights to games based on its shows (including global hits like Stranger Things), but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The entertainment giant will be building out its gaming team in the coming months. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.