July 25, 2021

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Netflix Is Expanding Into Video Games

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Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / Contributor (Getty Images)

Eyeing an even bigger slice of the media pie, Netflix is planning an imminent expansion into the video game space, and has reportedly tapped a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to helm the initiative.

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On Wednesday, Bloomberg News was the first to report that Netflix had selected Mike Verdu — most recently vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality content at Facebook — to serve as vice president of game development. Once installed at the platform, Verdu will report to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters, according to Bloomberg.

The announcement represents just the latest push by Netflix into a space beyond streaming content like television shows and movies — a realm that the platform has signaled to its 200 million subscribers for years that it was eager to delve into. Netflix first hinted at a potential market expansion during the E3 gaming conference in 2019, when it announced a planned mobile game based on the “Stranger Things” franchise.

Since then, Netflix has been less than coy about its proposed expansion: In a 2019 letter to shareholders, the company named — Fortnite — a popular video game known that has something to do with dancing, if I’m not mistaken — as its primary competition. And in May of 2021, The Information first reported that Netflix was seeking an executive to boost its investments in the gaming space. It’s also not the first time Netflix has sought to blur the line between traditional streaming content and more avant-garde media, including recent interactive features like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Carmen Sandiego.

If the stock market is to be trusted — and let’s face it, it’s not — Netflix is making moves that appeal to stakeholders, with shares rising 2% in extended trading on Wednesday following the announcement of Verdu’s appointment. If all this keeps going apace, it looks like we’d all better brace ourselves for My Octopus Teacher: The Interactive Deep Sea Experience by 2025.

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