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15th Jul 2021

Netflix to start offering video games as part of service

Danny Jones

Netflix Gaming could arrive next year

Netflix Gaming is about to be a thing, apparently

As covered by Bloomberg, Netflix is looking to get into the gaming industry and although we have little idea what that looks like right now, the suggestion is that it could be something along the lines of Steam and Stadia, or something else entirely.

Netflix has reportedly hired former EA (FIFA, Battlefield etc.) and Zynga (FarmVille, Zynga Poker) executive, Mike Verdu, as the vice president of their new game development team. The detail surrounding the reports are still unclear at this stage, as it’s clear that things are still in the early stages.

According to an insider, “The idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year” and, as yet, “The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content”. This means that if all goes ahead as expected, videogames will run alongside the current service of Netflix originals and third-party hosting for the same price.

Many people currently stream Netflix through their consoles or computers, so the jump won’t be very big at all and, in fairness, they have dabbled in forms of interactive story-telling before, such as Minecraft: Story Mode and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. In fact, it was after the success of these that rumours first started circulating around more interactive content.

Moreover, Netflix has been more directly involved with games before too, such as licensing deals like the Stranger Things game and turning games into TV shows, i.e. The Witcher; nevertheless, the plans for this next phase of their streaming service is reported to be “much larger in scope.”

In terms of whether they will strictly develop their own games or host third-party titles, we don’t know yet; the report simply says 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.”

So, whilst it isn’t concrete, it does sound like we will also be getting Netflix Gaming Originals alongside TV and film – a huge step ahead of the competition in the ‘Streaming Wars’. Though Netflix is by far the most commonly subscribed service – even they said Fortnite is their biggest rival as opposed to Amazon Prime and the like – its number of new subscribers has dipped recently.

Once again, there is still no solid information on what users will be able to play and how but Netflix has previously said it has no plans for a game-streaming service, as CEO Reed Hastings emphasised: “We’re really focused on doing incredible series and films and unscripted.”

In the Axios article embedded above, Totilo likened the Netflix Gaming vision to “a smaller Apple Arcade“, going on to add that the gaming content could be a mixture of licensed content based on Netflix IPs along with “original work commissioned from independent studios.” However, as mentioned, Totillo suggested games would be downloaded and not streamed.

A Netflix spokesperson told Axios, “we’re excited to do more with interactive entertainment.” and let’s just say, whatever shape it takes, so are we. However, could it be one more oligopolistic step towards total domination too far and fail like Stadia?