Netflix hires Oculus and EA veteran Mike Verdu to lead the games

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Netflix has hired former Oculus and EA game development leader Mike Verdu to headline its fledgling in-game efforts.

The company has been hiring people for games for a while and Verdu is the biggest name that has yet reached the service of streaming movies and TV shows. The move shows the company is seriously expanding into gaming, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once described (noting Fortnite in particular) as Netflix’s biggest competition for the time being. clients.

Verdu will be the vice president of game development, who will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters. Verdu was previously vice president of Facebook in charge of augmented reality and virtual reality content. Previously, he also served as senior vice president of EA mobile, president of studies and creative director of Kabam, CEO of TapZen and creative director and co-chair of games at Zynga.

Netflix has already participated in games with titles such as Stranger Things and The 3% Challenge. The latter was a voice-controlled game. And Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was a game-like experience, as it was an interactive television show where the audience made decisions in the plot to influence the end of the story.

These were rogue games. But Verdu is a serious gaming leader that has historically focused on building entire game portfolios for businesses.

Netflix’s move to gaming has been anticipated, as all major technology companies have recognized the power of gaming, which has grown to reach the $ 175 billion industry, according to market researcher Newzoo. After the pandemic, games are also growing faster than many other forms of entertainment and media, according to a report this week from PwC.

But moving on to games is not easy. Google created a game-making studio for its Stadia cloud gaming service, and then closed the internal gaming studio led by Jade Raymond. Amazon has also had mixed results with games like Crucible, and recently decided to open its Lumberyard game engine. Facebook owns the Oculus virtual reality business and is now experimenting with cloud gaming and promoting services for game streamers. Meanwhile, Apple is working on augmented reality and virtual reality technologies.

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