Mike Verdu, Netflix’s Vice President of Gaming, says that the company is looking into a Netflix cloud gaming platform. Verdu also states that they plan to open a new gaming studio in Southern California.
The streaming platform first launched its games division last year. According to their Q3 earnings report, they currently offer 35 games. An additional 55 games are now in development. “We’re seeing some encouraging signs of gameplay leading to higher retention,” the company said in a letter to shareholders.
These 55 games are a mixture of titles based on original Netflix IPs, licensed brands, and new and original properties developed by Netflix. “We hope over time that the balance,” Verdu adds when it comes to these properties, “is like, 50% Netflix IP.”
It was not noted if these in-development games are strictly for the mobile platform.
A Netflix cloud gaming service would look to expand upon the company’s current video game offerings. At TechCrunch Disrupt, Verdu said, “it’s a value add. We’re not asking you to subscribe as a console replacement. It’s a completely different business model. The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are.”
Currently, Netflix offers an impressive library of games, backed by Stranger Things 3: The Game, Stranger Things: 1984, Into the Breach, Moonlighter, and others. An issue with Netflix’s gaming lineup is that it’s tricky to play these games. Instead of playing through the Netflix app, you have to download them on an Android or iOS device when logged into your Netflix profile. The process seems a bit confusing, but in theory, a Netflix cloud gaming service could help deliver these titles to a wider audience.
Netflix would not be the first company to enter the cloud gaming sphere. Google’s Stadia service launched in November 2019. It will cease existence come January 2023. This is something not lost on Verdu.
Phil Harrison, the former Stadia Vice President and General Manager, mentioned that “Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected.” Mike Verdu sees things a little bit differently.
“Stadia was a technical success. It was fun to play games on Stadia. It had some issues with the business model,” he said at TechCrunch Disrupt.
While Google Stadia crashed and burned, Xbox Cloud Gaming continues to grow. Members of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can use Xbox Cloud Gaming to play select games they own outside of Game Pass through the cloud. It’s possible that we could see something similar for Netflix subscribers: using the cloud to play games in a theoretical Netflix cloud gaming library.
Further details are unavailable at this time, such as what the business model for a Netflix cloud gaming service would be or if such a platform would have a dedicated controller. Verdu did mention that Netflix is opening a new studio in Southern California. It will be led by Chako Sonny, who previously worked as an executive producer for Overwatch.
“He could have done anything,” Verdu says regarding Sonny, “but he chose to come here. You don’t get people like that coming to your organization to build the next big thing in gaming unless there’s a sense that we’re really in it for the long haul and in it for the right reasons.”
This is the fifth internal game studio under the Netflix umbrella. The other four are Boss Fight Entertainment, Night Scool Studio, Next Games, and a studio in Helsinki, Finland, that former Zynga General Manager Marko Lastikka helms.
News of a Netflix cloud gaming platform comes as the streaming giant beats quarterly expectations. The company added 2.41 million subscribers for a total subscriber count of over 223 million. This beats a forecast of just 1 million subscribers for Q3.
The company also beat revenue predictions with a total of $7.93 billion in reported earning revenue.