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Netflix Gets Serious About Gaming, Hires Former EA and Oculus Exec Mike Verdu

Mike Verdu, with the video game "This Means War", at the Kabam studio in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2015. Mike Verdu is a veteran video game developer who recently sold his start-up to Kabam Inc., one of the biggest creators of smartphone and tablet games.
Mike Verdu (Image credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Netflix has codified its recently rumored entry into the online video game market, hiring former EA and Facebook/Oculus executive Mike Verdu to lead the initiative. 

Verdu, who has also worked at Atari and Zynga Inc., will operate under the title of VP of gaming development.

According to Bloomberg, which first reported Verdu's hiring, Netflix is making the risky bet of entering a business it has little experience with at a time when post-quarantine subscriber growth is slowing. The news platform said the company could report as few as 1 million additional subscribers for the entire second quarter when it reports earnings July 20. 

Among tech giants, the lack of gaming studio puts Netflix behind companies including Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. And in terms of the the sphere of media conglomerates it increasingly competes with, Netflix lacks the diversification owning theme parks, concert venues, etc. (Notably, Netflix also announced the launch of a new licensed merchandise devision, Netflix.shop, in June.)

Speaking to an unnamed company source, Bloomberg said Netflix would add games to its program menu as an additional benefit to subscribers, at not additional charge. Netflix plans to add this additional service within the next 12 months. 

The Information reported on June 3 that Netflix was looking to get into the gaming business and was in the process of recruiting a top executive to lead the initiative.