Netflix hires EA veteran to head up gaming development – so what’s the plan?

Netflix has stepped up its campaign to move into the gaming space today with the hiring of Mike Verdu, a heavyweight industry veteran. The streaming giant has long been thought to have a gaming strategy, but Verdu’s arrival comes alongside a report from Bloomberg that such content could be offered within the next year. 

Verdu moves over from a couple of years as VP of VR/AR content at Facebook, with a remit of bringing games to Oculus devices. Before that he had a couple of stints at EA both in mobile and console, including GM at EA Los Angeles, overseeing a handful of massive franchises. He’s also spent time at Zynga as chief creative officer. 

Mike Verdu, Netflix [Image from Linkedin]
In short, Verdu is the kind of person you hire when you want to build franchises. And he joins Netflix as VP of game development.

According to Bloomberg’s unnamed sources, the company is looking to offer games as a part of its streaming package without additional costs. The potential reach of such a strategy would be huge, making small games massive and big games into goliaths, through sheer ease of accessibility. 

With no major development going on at present (you can’t hide that kind of thing), Netflix’s initial strategy must be to offer games already on the market. Presuming the technology works, the upside in exposure alone would be massive for developers. 

Having seen what the service has done for TV content such as Friends, it would be interesting to see what gains even a game such as Fortnite or FIFA could make with a spot on Netflix’s front page – seen by 210m odd subscribers. With Verdu’s connections at EA, it now seems an even more likely partner than ever. 

That’s just stage one of course, Netflix is surely going to attempt to bring its Netflix Originals brand to the gaming space as well, something that Verdu’s job title looks to support. Otherwise he’d just be working in partnerships. But that’s likely to come further down the line, once the initial concept has been proved. 

There are bound to be those who dismiss Netflix’s efforts, largely due to the shadow cast by Stadia at present. However, like Google, Netflix has plenty of cash to throw at such an effort, but unlike Google it already has a brand synonymous with entertainment, and can boast 210m eyeballs pointed straight at TVs around the world.

That’s almost double the number of PS4’s sold to date, and that’s only accounts, with many having multiple users.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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