Netflix to start releasing video games, hired former EA executive

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Enlarge / Netflix as a game publisher: we know it’s happening. But we have many, many questions as to what form his service will take.

Netflix’s growing fascination with video games will soon explode in the form of a full-fledged game publishing arm.

While Netflix has yet to release its own announcement on the initiative, the streaming video provider has confirmed to Ars Technica that it has hired a former director of EA and Oculus to lead a publishing team of Netflix games.

The newly hired executive is Mike Verdu, who recently worked in developer relations with Facebook’s Oculus VR team (his public profile still indicates that is his current job). He has been working in game development and publishing since the early 90s, and his first studio, Legend Entertainment, was eventually acquired by GT Interactive.

While Netflix has yet to confirm what shape its video game publishing arm might take, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman suggested that the effort could lead to “video games [as part of] its service next year. The use of “video games” as a descriptor is essential, as it differentiates the effort from the “choose your own adventure” television specials that have become more common on the service since. Black mirrorThe special “Bandersnatch” debuted in 2018.

Does that mean more Belmont action?

In addition, Netflix has spent the last half a decade building a collection of exclusive television series based on video game licenses, including animated series based on Castlevania, Dota 2, and a critically acclaimed live-action version of The witcher (whose second season is slated to launch later this year). Perhaps Konami’s long pause on Castlevania games could change with Netflix as a publishing partner in the mix. (Again, maybe we should calm our heels and see if Netflix’s first game list revolves around non-gaming properties like the wacky dating show. Sexy Beasts, the ridiculous cast of King tiger, or, fingers crossed, absurd sketch comedy from I think you should go.)

However, we’ve seen aggressive release timelines hamper major new game release efforts as recently as this year, with Google noisily shutting down its Stadia game development studios after two years of development and no releases. If Netflix sticks to a timeline as short as “next year,” the streaming giant will likely have to focus on scaled-down versions, or even games that have already been in the works for years before the announcement of. today.

And while Netflix is ​​currently enjoying massive exposure thanks to its popular app, we don’t know if the same app will support streaming games on all existing devices and operating systems, which each have their own issues. Plus, if it requires constant online connection, is Netflix poised to offer competitive cloud-based latency? And will such a service require some setup trick to get around aggressive storefront rules regarding individually rated and rated games?

Until Netflix clarifies its exact launch strategy and back-end solution, we wonder how it will compete with a growing glut of cloud-based and download-based game subscription services.


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