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Netflix eyes game development to expand its community

Netflix is expanding its service to feature video games and has on-boarded EA and Facebook executives to head up game development. Will this strengthen the belief that subscriptions are the future of the industry?

Between binging an endless library of films, tacky reality shows, satirical cartoons, and high-brow TV dramas, it’s safe to say most of us with Netflix subscriptions are already getting our money’s worth.

With over 200 million subscribers from 190 countries, the TV mecca sits head and shoulders above its competitors as the most popular streaming service of 2021.

The company’s meteoric growth over recent years – especially throughout the height of the pandemic – would allow Marc Randolph and co to rest on their laurels if they so wished.

According to recent reports, however, that isn’t happening. Netflix is now targeting the most lucrative industry in entertainment – gaming.

Hearing us refer to Microsoft Game Pass as ‘the Netflix of gaming’ for a year has clearly lit a fire.

Netflix gets serious about gaming

After months of speculation dating back to May, Netflix revealed on Tuesday (July 6) it is in fact delving into game development, and in a big way.

The streaming giant has hired former EA, Oculus, and Zynga executive Mike Verdu as the Vice President of game development, confirms IGN, while the first batch of games are slated for release on the Netflix app before the end of the year.

What exactly this expansion will look like, no one yet knows. Netflix could have ambitious plans to create its own first-party titles, but more likely is envisioning a licencing swoop for third-party games and franchise’s we’re familiar with.

If Netflix is considering the first option, something around Bon Bernthal’s Punisher could be seriously decent. Just putting it out there.

Aside from Twitter’s gaming contingent demanding specific Netflix adaptions, a common question on socials is whether or not these games will require hefty downloads, or utilise cloud streaming services like Google, Amazon, and Xbox Play Anywhere.

One crucial detail we have been given is that Netflix intends to give subscribers this new offering for free. Provided you’re already coughing up the standard £13.99 a month, of course.

A more inclusive way of gaming

Whether or not you begrudge that payment coming out of your wages every month, the point remains, subscriptions are providing an inclusive financial alternative to gamers.

As the prices for new consoles continue to rise, alongside the standard digital editions of triple A titles – now between £55 and £70 a pop – subscriptions like EA Play, PS Now, and in particular Microsoft Game Pass can offer gamers way more bang for their buck.

While in the long term you may end up paying more for your subscription than a next gen console, for instance, many prefer the benefit of instantly playing 100s of rotating games for affordable outlays each month. The reality is not everyone can afford to sink hundreds of pounds into a single console purchase or constant game rollouts every year.

For many, these subscriptions offer an opportunity to play games they otherwise couldn’t afford, and as more of these services inevitably come about, the hope is that they will bring more diverse audiences with them and a more expansive community for gaming overall.

With that goal in mind, Netflix adding games to its current offering for no extra price is undeniably an exciting prospect. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take this week’s reports with a hefty pinch of salt. They are awful scarce on detail, after all.

The last time a company promised an endless catalogue of games available through the cloud for ‘reasonable’ monthly payments, Stadia happened.


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