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Netflix snags former EA, Oculus exec to lead its video game efforts

Netflix snags former EA, Oculus exec to lead its video game efforts


Mike Verdu is joining as VP of game development

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A report this spring from The Information said that Netflix was seeking an executive to lead its push into gaming, with an eye toward offering an Apple Arcade or Xbox Game Pass-like subscription bundle. Now, as first reported by Bloomberg, the streaming company has hired Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development reporting to COO Greg Peters. A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the hire to The Verge.

According to Bloomberg, Netflix could offer games right next to its other streaming content “within the next year” listed as a new genre just like documentaries or anything else, without charging extra for the experience.

Verdu is a former exec who has experience with mobile gaming companies like Zynga, ran EA Mobile for a year, and most recently has been working at Facebook acquiring a series of Oculus game developers like BigBox VR, maker of Population: One.

On its last earnings call in April (PDF), Peters said “...we’re 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 back stories 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.”

“And certainly, games is (sic) a really interesting component of that... And there’s no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and an important sort of modality to deepen that fan experience. So we’re going to keep going, and we’ll continue to learn and figure it out as we go.”

Netflix gaming forays have included interactive features like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Carmen Sandiego, as well as licensed games including a Stranger Things title for mobile devices. It also currently has a few job listings for positions producing and leading interactive products, postings that don’t mention the word gaming, but show it’s staffing up with people who have the experience necessary to help that division get off the ground.

Update July 14th, 7:25PM ET: Added additional details and confirmation from a Netflix spokesperson.