It’s been predictable that Netflix will one day go beyond video content, and now it’s official. In July 2021, Netflix stated that its expansion would include game production. With Mike Verdu at the helm, the gaming department will use his experience at Facebook, which tried to launch its VR games, but now with all the wrongs fixed. It’s what Netflix needs now, given the decline in subscriptions noticed recently.
The idea is that the existing subscription will include games as well as series as movies. Initially, it will be mobile gaming, and it makes sense, given that the Netflix app is as popular on small screens as it is on big ones. It may serve as a hub for game apps, providing authentication and access to content (though, given the long Epic-vs-Apple lawsuits, the mechanism of this is unclear).
Netflix is not new to making content, though its own production is not valued equally: series are mostly praised, while movies often make critics shrug. But it can as well distribute games made by other developers, using its recommendation algorithms to offer its users titles they will probably like. Still, it’s primarily about great games (as Greg Peters, a chief operating/product officer of Netflix, admits). If there are too few, success is improbable.
On the other hand, the concentration of intellectual property allows Netflix to create games based on popular movies and shows, and gamification always works better (even the successful Witcher series is more often compared to games than to original novels). Making an RPG inspired by BoJack Horseman or an Umbrella Academy co-op action, or maybe a Peaky Blinders title that lies between GTA and RDR – well, worth a wait! But chances are we'll see casual games (series- or movie-themed, at best) or standalone titles. And it’s not bad for Netflix, given that its shares gained 2.8% after the statement was made.