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Netflix opening fifth studio and "seriously exploring" cloud gaming

Streamer's gaming VP Mike Verdu says the company has 55 titles in the works

At a glance

  • Netflix opening fifth internal studio, led by former Overwatch executive producer Chacko Sonny
  • Streaming firm is "seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering" but not "as a console replacement"
  • Netflix has 55 titles in the works, and wants 50% to be based on its own IP

Netflix continues to ramp up its games strategy with talk of a cloud gaming service and the announcement of a new development studio in Southern California.

The news comes from an on-stage session with the company's vice president of gaming Mike Verdu at TechCrunch Disrupt, who said that Netflix is "seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering."

While Verdu did not share details, he did suggest this will not be positioned as a platform in its own right.

"It's a value add," he told TechCrunch. "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."

His comments come in the wake of Google's announcement last month that Stadia, its own cloud gaming service, will shut down in January 2023 – a little over three years after launch.

When asked about Stadia's failure, Verdu argued that Google's service "was a technical success," adding: "It was fun to play games on Stadia. It had some issues with the business model."

More immediately, Netflix is opening its fifth development studio with the creation of a new outfit in Southern California.

This team will be led by Chacko Sonny, a former Overwatch executive producer who left Blizzard last year shortly after the harassment and discrimination scandal emerged.

Verdu pointed to Sonny's recruitment as a sign of how committed Netflix is to its gaming operations: "You don't get people like that coming to your organisation 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."

Sonny's studio follows Netflix's launch of a development studio in Finland last month, led by Zynga Helsinki co-founder Marko Lastikka.

Since September 2021, Netflix has also acquired Oxenfree developer Night School Studio, Finnish mobile studio Next Games, and Dungeon Boss creator Boss Fight Entertainment.

Finally, Verdu discussed the company's upcoming slate of games. There are currently 35 mobile games available to subscribers, including Oxenfree, Into The Breach and Desta: The Memories Between, a new title by Monument Valley studio Ustwo Games.

Netflix has a further 14 in development across its own studios, with Verdu reporting there are a total of 55 "in flight" at the moment.

Last month, Ubisoft announced it has partnered with Netflix to produce three mobile games, including Valiant Hearts 2 (which debuts in January 2023), Mighty Quest (also due next year) and an undated Assassin's Creed spin-off.

Some of Netflix's games will be based on licensed IP, such as Spongebob Squarepants, while others will be based on the streaming firm's own franchises, including Stranger Things.

Verdu hopes the latter will represent 50% of Netflix's overall games library.