Netflix Is Getting Serious About Video Games

UPDATE: Netflix has confirmed in a shareholder letter that they are not only expanding into video games but will not charge users for them.

While we won’t be seeing traditional games on the service, Netflix wants to stick to interactive products like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch or Stranger Things.

“We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity (eg. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch) and our Stranger Things games,” Netflix said in the letter “We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation, and unscripted TV. Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices.”

The streaming giant wants to continue growing its movie and television offerings and the goal is to diversify over the next decade.

“We’re excited as ever about our movies and TV series offering and we expect a long runway of increasing investment and growth across all of our existing content categories, but since we are nearly a decade into our push into original programming, we think the time is right to learn more about how our members value games,” the company confirms today.

We’ve known for some time that Netflix is in the early stages of getting involved with the video games industry in some capacity. It’s inevitable that the streaming giant wouldn’t want to join in and get a seat at the table and today’s news is making this a likely reality.

A new report from Bloomberg indicates that Netflix has tapped Mike Verdu to lead the gaming initiative. Having previously been at both Electronic Arts and Facebook serving in an executive role, he now serves as vice president of game development, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters.

From the report, it was that “the idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year.” These games will appear alongside the current catalogue of movies on the platform, and according to someone familiar with the plans, will not charge extra for the content.

While Netflix has dabbled in the industry before with Stranger Things getting a mobile title and a VR experience, we’ve also had Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend. Netflix has also released series based on video game properties like Castlevania, The Witcher, and Splinter Cell.

In an earnings call from earlier this year, Greg Peters said that Netflix is “in the business of creating these amazing deep universes and compelling characters and people come to love those universes and they want to immerse themselves more deeply and get to know the characters better and their backstories and all that stuff. And so really we’re trying to figure out what are all these different ways that we can increase those points of connection, we can deepen that fandom.”

If Google’s Stadia is anything to go by, getting into the industry is tough and returns on investments are sometimes not guaranteed.