Following on from previous reports that Netflix Gaming would soon become a reality, Bloomberg learned industry veteran Mike Verdu has now joined Netflix as vice president of game development.
Verdu is a longtime developer and producer to say the least. He was already in the early 90s when he co-founded Legend Entertainment, developer of games such as the Spellcasting series, Gateway series, Companions of Xanth, Death Gate, Mission Critical and Sword of Shannara. In late 1998, he became Studio Head at Atari, where he is credited as Project Director of Unreal II: The Awakening and Producer of The Wheel of Time game adaptation.
In July 2002, Verdu joined EA as Sr. Producer at Command & Conquer Generals before becoming executive producer of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II. Later, between 2007 and 2009, he was promoted to General Manager of EA Los Angeles, where he oversaw Command & Conquer, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth, and Medal of Honor franchises. He later moved to Zynga and then to Kabam, before returning to EA’s mobile division. For the past two years, he worked at Facebook as vice president of AR/VR content, where he helped bring games such as Vader Immortal: Episode II and III, Asgard’s Wrath, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge and Medal of Honor: Up and on to Oculus platforms.
Hiring Mike Verdu is certainly a good start, although the Netflix Gaming team will have to grow very quickly to reach the lofty goal of launching within the next year. The games must be available within the same platform, as an additional genre on top of the existing ones, and the current plan does not include extras for the game content.
Netflix has dabbled in interactive shows and some game adaptations of its IPs (Stranger Things and Narcos) before, and it continues to adapt game IPs to the TV series and/or movie format. However, this Netflix Gaming proposition appears to be a much more robust plan to attract gamers to the streaming service. It’s also a major reversal of the statement Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shared in late 2019, when the CEO said the company was completely focused on TV shows and movies.
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