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Photo: Netflix

Netflix has tapped gaming veteran Mike Verdu to serve as VP of game development, a hire first reported by Bloomberg.

Why it matters: This is the first move in its new gaming initiative that the company Netflix has acknowledged specifically.

  • Last spring, The Information and we here at Axios reported that Netflix was expanding into gaming with a site of downloadable games.
  • At the time, the company only said "we're excited to do more with interactive entertainment."

Between the lines: Verdu's 36-year career in tech and games includes stints as head of EA's mobile division, chief creative officer at Zynga and most recently, head of developer outreach for Facebook/Oculus' VR and AR initiatives.

  • But Netflix isn't talking just yet about what he's doing for them.

The big picture: Netflix's move is fueling speculation that it will introduce a game-streaming service that runs high-end games and competes with the likes of Xbox Game Pass.

  • That may not be right. Axios sources last spring told us to expect something more akin to Apple Arcade: a suite of smaller games, possibly downloadable, to keep Netflix app users entertained. Sources cautioned then that plans are subject to change.
  • According to Bloomberg: "The idea is to offer video games on Netflix's streaming platform within the next year, according to a person familiar with the situation. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre."

Obligatory mention: Netflix's interest in games is seldom written without a copy and paste of CEO Red Hasting's 2019 quote that "We compete with (and lose to) "Fortnite" more than HBO." (Done!)

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - Technology

Netflix boss defends Chappelle special but regrets hurting staff

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos speaks at Ted's 2020 Oscar Nominee Toast in 2020 in West Hollywood, Calif. Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Netflix

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said he "screwed up" in his communications with employees who are staging a walkout Wednesday over Dave Chappelle's anti-transgender comments in the comedian's latest comedy special on the platform.

Yes, but: While Sarandos told the Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter late Tuesday that he should have realized that airing Chappelle's special would hurt some employees, he still defended the decision to air "The Closer."

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 20, 2021 - Technology

Netflix workers walk out over handling of Dave Chappelle special

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Workers at a Netflix office in Los Angeles and its Los Gatos. California, headquarters staged a protest on Wednesday over the company's handling of anti-transgender comments made by Dave Chappelle in his latest comedy special for the service.

Why it matters: The move comes amid growing controversy over Netflix's handling of the situation, which has also included the firing of one transgender employee for allegedly leaking company information.

Oct 21, 2021 - Podcasts

A new position of power for American workers

Across the country, workers are angry — demanding better pay and conditions. Since last week, some 10,000 John Deere workers have been on strike in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia after rejecting a pay raise that didn’t go above 6%. It’s the largest strike of the pandemic - but not the only one.

  • Plus, Netflix workers stand up for the trans community.
  • And, Biden’s plans for vaccinating kids against covid.

Guests: Axios' Courtenay Brown, Ina Fried and Marisa Fernandez.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Alex Sugiura, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Michael Hanf, and David Toledo. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper: