Netflix opens yet another development studio as part of an increasingly serious push into gaming spearheaded by cloud streaming services.
Netflix is opening its fifth development studio as part of an increasingly serious push into gaming, the company announced Tuesday. Mike Verdu, Netflix Vice President of Games, shared the news at this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt 2022, in addition to elaborating on the media giant’s long-term ambitions in interactive entertainment, which include a potential game streaming service.
Netflix has been exploring first-party game development for several years now, though its most serious foray into the segment only started in July 2021. That’s when the company hired Verdu—a former Electronic Arts executive—to helm its new gaming division. Since then, it launched Stranger Things 3: The Game and a number of other mobile titles, in addition to announcing over half a dozen other games set to release in the coming months. As part of the same push, the company previously opened four other development studios, the latest one of which started operating just last month in Helsinki, Finland, under the direction of Zynga co-founder Marko Lastikka.
The latest addition to Netflix’s game development portfolio is an internal studio in its home state of California. The as-of-yet-nameless team will be led by Chacko Sonny, best known as the executive producer of Blizzard’s hit competitive FPS Overwatch. There’s been no word on the studio’s immediate agenda, but overall, Netflix is currently developing 14 first-party titles and has another 41 in the works in collaboration with external developers, Verdu said. Finally, the executive revealed that the entertainment conglomerate is now “seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering.” Such a service wouldn’t be dissimilar to Google’s recently axed Stadia platform, with one crucial difference: Netflix wouldn’t be looking to compete with console and PC gaming, according to the executive.
A Netflix cloud gaming service has been rumored for some time now, and its ostensible mobile focus that Verdu seems to be hinting at makes sense given his own background. Between senior roles at mobile-first developer Kabam and his experience as the VP of EA Mobile, the industry veteran is well-aware of smartphone and tablet gaming’s overall global potential.
Irrespective of a potential cloud gaming platform launch, Netflix is guaranteed to continue ramping up its subscriber-exclusive game releases in the immediate future. Besides first-party offerings, the company is now also actively expanding its portfolio with third-party partnerships. One such team-up was announced just last month with Ubisoft, who agreed to bring three new exclusives to Netflix over the course of 2023. The first of that trio, Valiant Hearts 2, is scheduled to release in January.
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