Netflix to add video games on its service at no added cost in the next year, report says
Netflix has flirted with video games and interactivity before, but now it sees Fortnite and other gaming obsessions as one of its main competitors for your finite attention.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
ExpertiseStreaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation onlineCredentials
Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Netflix is expected to expand into video games on its service at no extra cost within the next year, widening from its bedrock business of TV shows and movies as the world's biggest subscription video service, according to a report by Bloomberg. It would move Netflix into a major entertainment segment -- gaming -- that it has called out as some of its stiffest competition for your attention.
Netflix confirmed Wednesday that it has hired a former Oculus, Electronic Arts and Zynga executive, Mike Verdu, as vice president of games development. A spokeswoman declined to comment beyond his hiring.
The games will be available as though they're a new genre on the service, and Netflix doesn't plan to charge extra for them, according to Bloomberg, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter.
Netflix hinted recently that it would be interested in stepping up its pursuit of gaming. The company has flirted with games before through its interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style programming like Bandersnatch and through some licensing and merchandising partnerships. But in April, Netflix's chief operating and product officer signaled that Netflix's interest in gaming may be advancing.
"We're trying to figure out what are all these different ways ... we can deepen that fandom, and certainly games are a really interesting component of that," Greg Peters said at the time. "There's no doubt that games are going to be an important form of entertainment and an important modality to deepen that fan experience."
As Netflix has grown to more than 207 million subscribers worldwide, it has long pointed out that its competition extends beyond the traditional TV and movie companies that go head-to-head with it. The company has repeatedly called out gaming phenoms like Fortnite, as well as user-generated-video powerhouse YouTube, as some of its toughest competition for the massive collection of entertainment hours they command worldwide.