Since it originally started delivering DVDs in paper sleeves, Netflix has advanced significantly. The paid streaming service revealed yesterday that it has opened its very own games studio as part of its aggressive foray into the video gaming sector.
The internal studio is run by Marko Lastikka, a former executive of Zynga and Electronic Arts, and is located in Helsinki, Finland. Prior to leading FarmVille 3 at Zynga, Lastikka co-founded and oversaw Tracktwenty, an EA Helsinki company where he worked on SimCity BuildIt. The addition of Netflix’s newest company, Lastikka, will bring the number of pre-existing teams the streaming service has bought in the past year to four: Next Games, Night School Studio, Boss Fight Entertainment.
When it hired Mike Verdu, another former EA executive, in September 2021, Netflix entered the game industry for the first time. Since then, Verdu has assisted the company in launching a number of unique mobile games, such as mobile poker, two Stranger Things games, and a game that blends basketball with dart guns. Even non-exclusive movies like Heads Up and the classic card game Exploding Kittens are now available in premium versions on Netflix. All Netflix subscribers have had access to them at no additional cost.
However, despite how simple it is for users to access these games, Netflix’s games haven’t exactly been a hit. In August, less than 1% of users expressed interest in the service’s selection of mobile games. We even speculated at the time that Netflix may eventually stop investing in mobile gaming and trim its losses, but it appears the business has increased its bets. (This wouldn’t be the first dubious decision Netflix has made recently; earlier this year, as its stock price fell, it hinted at password-sharing costs and ad-supported membership levels.)
Amir Rahimi, vice president of game studios, stated, “Creating a game can take years. I’m proud to see how we’re steadily developing the basis of our games studios in our first year, and I look forward to sharing what we produce in the following years.”
Netflix did not specify in its statement if the titles from its new studio would be free with standard memberships or require a further payment. Even the company’s future plans are unclear; some customers watch Netflix on computers or gaming consoles, and the service has already dabbled with remote-driven interactive programming. It did confirm the games would be ad-free and lack in-app purchases, which is refreshing, given mobile games’ tendency to make microtransactions integral to the user experience.