Netflix is looking to expand into video games, after hiring former video game executive Mike Verdu, who has previously worked at EA, Atari, and Kabam, and on projects for Oculus VR at Facebook.
The news was originally reported by Bloomberg, but we don’t know yet whether Netflix is planning to develop its own games, partner with a specific publisher or platform, or license titles from a variety of studios to make available to its users.
Bloomberg quotes an industry source claiming that games will appear on the platform "within the next year", and will sit in the library alongside other genres, like documentaries and stand-up specials do. In addition, this new feature won't come at an additional cost to subscribers.
The studio didn’t specify what types of games it would be developing, though new hire Verdu has worked on simulation franchises such as FarmVille and SimCity, as well as the strategy title Plants vs. Zombies 2.
It’s worth noting that Netflix has been building relationships with various game studios over the last few years. The team has several video game series adaptations in the works from the likes Ubisoft, Sega, Capcom and CD Projekt Red – the latter hosted a joint convention with Netflix for all the properties related to The Witcher.
Netflix has also experimented with interactive shows like the Black Mirror spin-off Bandersnatch in the past, and adapted Minecraft: Story Mode into a similar ‘choose your own adventure’ format.
If it does begin to provide games, Netflix has to be careful to not be tripped up by the same Apple policy which Xbox Cloud Gaming fell foul of. Apple has an approval process for all apps and games available in the iOS App Store - and thus all apps available on iPhone - and claimed that because Xbox's game streaming service allows users to access a storefront of other games that have not gone through this process, it was in violation of App Store guidelines.
Microsoft has worked around this by offering cloud gaming to iOS users via web browser, but Netflix is unlikely to be willing to give up its entire iPhone and iPad app just for the sake of adding in gaming features.
In addition, Netflix is expanding its horizons in other areas. It’s allegedly developing a new social platform called N-Plus, has hosted two conventions in the last few months, opened a new merch store and is branching out into podcasts. It’s clear that this company is no longer content with conquering streaming – it's looking to challenge media and tech powerhouses such as Disney and Amazon elsewhere too.
If you’ve not already, you can sign up for a Netflix account over on the website – subscriptions start from £5.99/$8.99. You can see how Netflix stacks up against rivals in our comparison of the best TV streaming services.