Netflix has hired Mike Verdu, a veteran videogame executive. This signals that the video streaming service is poised for expansion into new entertainment areas.
Verdu was confirmed as Netflix’s vice-president of game development on Thursday. This is as Netflix seeks to maintain the momentum gained last year, when users turned to Netflix to escape the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic.
Netflix added 37 million global subscribers last year, the company’s largest ever annual gain. The landscape has changed drastically since the easing pandemic allowed people to live a normal life.
The video service was unable to make a mark in the first three months of 2011. It posted its lowest first-quarter subscriber growth in four years and predicted that its springtime gains would be modest. On Tuesday, the Los Gatos company will report its April-June results.
Netflix could add video games to its nearly 208 million subscribers at the end March. This is not surprising considering that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said long ago that the company competes against video games for people’s leisure.
Netflix did not directly address its possible entry into video games, but it made no secret of its intention by announcing Verdu’s title at the company. Verdu joins Netflix from Facebook’s Oculus where he managed the virtual reality headset manufacturer’s games. He was previously employed by video game developers Electronic Arts and Zynga.
The biggest questions now are when Netflix will offer video games, and whether or not it plans to charge an additional fee for them.
Tuna Amobi, CFRA analyst, stated that video games are a natural complement to Netflix’s extensive library of TV series. This helps to set the stage for price hikes that most subscribers will be able to accept.
In April, Netflix’s chief operating officers Greg Peters told investors that video games could be an additional way to engage subscribers who are already immersed in the stories in its TV series.
Peters stated that they were trying to find ways to increase the fandom and connect with people in different ways. Peters will report to Verdu in his new position.
Investors seem to be waiting and watching Netflix’s possible foray into video gaming. The stock price of Netflix fell by 1% to close at $542.95 on Thursday. Netflix shares are now down 8% from January’s peak of $593.29, despite the stock market hitting record highs.