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Netflix’s gaming expansion starts with mobile

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Games will be included at no added cost with a Netflix subscription

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Netflix revealed that its initial efforts in gaming will be focused on mobile games and that the games will be included with users’ Netflix subscriptions, the company announced as part of its second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday. The news comes just days after the company said it hired former EA and Oculus exec Mike Verdu to head up its gaming work.

Here is exactly what Netflix said about gaming, from its letter to investors:

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. 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. 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.

There are still no details on what types of games will actually be available, though Netflix recently extended its TV deal with Shonda Rhimes to include feature films and gaming content. There’s also no word on how games will be delivered to Netflix subscribers.

The company has acknowledged in the past that it competes with games for time and attention, with co-CEO Reed Hastings writing that “we compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO” in 2019. COO Greg Peters discussed the company’s interest in games in April (PDF) as part of its first quarter earnings. And the company has already dipped its toes into gaming with experiences like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Carmen Sandiego.

But with the recent hiring of Verdu and the new information shared Tuesday about its initial plans, now it seems like Netflix is more focused on games than ever.