Netflix has hired Mike Verdu, formerly of EA and Facebook/Oculus, as “vice president of game development”, which certainly implies Netflix is looking at creating its own games rather than just licensing out others (though, like it does with its current lineup, it would likely do both anyway).
“The idea is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year”, the story says, while also reporting that “the company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content”.
While this might initially seem like a weird move for a company that made its name with movies and TV, it makes a lot more sense when you consider Netflix is a media company that pictures itself at war not just with Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, but with anyone who is trying to sell content that’s played on a living room TV.
Netflix executives have no doubt been looking at Microsoft’s growing success with the Game Pass platform and thinking, yes, this is something that we too could be doing, and making millions/billions from, just like Amazon have done (and fucked up), and just like Google have done (and also fucked up).
This is good news for…Netflix shareholders? I guess? But the more this industry starts leaning towards subscription-based services as a means of generating revenue, the more dangerous this all becomes to us, the people actually paying for and playing the games.
Take this recent Gamasutra story, for example, which shows Google is about to start giving developers a cut based on how long people play their game. That might be how TV series’ are judged but… is not how video games work, and will clearly prioritise the development of long grinds over shorter, more impactful experiences.
We’re in danger of heading that way anyways, given the metrics Microsoft must be sitting on from Game Pass and that Google would also have looked at to have instituted that policy in the first place, but Netflix getting in on the action just feels somehow even worse, given the company’s own obsession with “hours watched” and its ruthlessness in killing off shows.