Netflix said in his First quarter results in April that "games will be an important form of entertainment" and a month later suggested that he was preparing to enter the field, saying TechRadar who is "excited to do more with interactive entertainment." Last week he took his first real step in that direction, hiring former Oculus content vice president Mike Verdu as vice president of game development.
Netflix is obviously committed to the cause, but, as we pointed out at the time, its real plan — beyond "we're not playing games" —was not clear. We now have a little more clarity on this front, but thanks to the news second quarter letter to shareholders, in which the company revealed more information about its fledgling game development efforts, including that it will prioritize mobile game development at the outset.
“We see games as another new category of content for us, similar to our expansion into original movies, animation, and unscripted television,” the letter says. "Games will be included in the Netflix subscription of members at no additional cost similar to movies and series. Initially, we will focus primarily on mobile games.
“We are excited as always with our range of films and TV series and look forward to a long track record of increasing investment and growth in all of our existing content categories, but as we have been in our drive for almost a decade in the original programming, we believe it is the right time to learn more about how our members value games. "
It's a much more cautious approach to gaming than we've seen so far from Amazon and Google, both of which have struggled to succeed in video games despite having virtually unlimited resources: Stadia is at a standstill and Amazon has yet to release anything, although the New World MMO has entered beta today and will be released on August 31st.
But Netflix isn’t targeting the same audience: by first focusing on existing users and making games accessible through mobile devices, it may open the door to people who may not consider themselves gamers. It’s a strategy that shuns the “central player” demographics that Amazon and Google are chasing, but I think it’s a good bet that will pay off.
While the approach may be relatively deliberate, there is an urgency behind it, driven by other services (including gaming platforms) looking for a limited number of eyeballs in an increasingly crowded media world.
"In the race to entertain consumers around the world, we continue to compete for screen time with a broad set of companies like YouTube, Epic Games and TikTok (to name just a few)," Netflix said. "But we are mainly competing with ourselves to improve our service as quickly as possible. If we can do that, we are confident that we can maintain our strong position and continue to grow well as we have been in the last two decades."
As for when games could start rolling out, there’s still no trace: Netflix just said it’s still “in the early stages of its in-game expansion”.