Netflix may add video games to its streaming catalog in the next year

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Netflix could expand beyond offering the best movies and TV shows to include video games in its catalog in the next year, and has hired a former EA and Facebook exec to execute the plan, according to a new Bloomberg report. 

Netflix will offer games as a separate category of content, much like it did with documentaries and other genres. It’s unclear if the streaming company will offer existing games or develop entirely new ones – but as Bloomberg pointed out, listings for game development-related positions have appeared on Netflix’s site, like this one seeking a product innovation director to create interactive content similar to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

The executive linked to head this endeavor has wide experience in gaming, per the report. Mike Verdu will be Netflix’s VP of game development, but had previously been a Facebook VP dedicated to bringing content to the Oculus platforms, an EA executive who worked on mobile games in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars franchises, and chief creative officer for Zynga around the time FarmVille was ruling Facebook.

In other words, Netflix is bringing on an executive with experience in non-traditional gaming platforms, so we’re curious what kind of content he will cultivate at Netflix – which will build out its gaming team in the months to come, a source told Bloomberg. 

Netflix and gaming? Pros and cons

Netflix is seemingly looking at gaming as a new frontier of content to bolster its catalog and offer something its competitors, like HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video, don’t have. Apple does, with Apple Arcade, though that’s a separate offering than the Apple TV Plus streaming service.

While Netflix isn’t expected to increase its subscription rates when gaming content gets added within the next year, the company could use its addition to justify a price hike.

The other question is whether Apple and Google would take issue with Netflix offering gaming content in its subscription service given how restrictive both companies are regarding iOS and Android apps for game streaming services – both Xbox Game Pass Ultimate's xCloud tech and Amazon Luna have to use browser workarounds for players to use them on smartphones. 

But given how little we know about the actual content of Netflix’s games, they may not face such severe scrutiny. 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.