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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

"Fortnite" introduces interactive MLK experience

Video game characters in front of four screens. Image: Courtesy of Epic Games

A new interactive experience in "Fortnite" is sparking discussion about whether featuring Martin Luther King Jr. in the game is simply too ridiculous.

Why it matters: "Fortnite" has proved that it can serve as a venue for entertainment beyond what it offers as a video game.

A game review, with one less string attached

Screenshot: Marvelous/Grasshopper Manufacture

It’s unclear if the upcoming Nintendo Switch releaseNo More Heroes 3” is good or bad, but an outcry over its review embargo raised a red flag.

Driving the news: A restriction that would have blocked critics from reviewing the game until nine hours after it went on sale was altered last night in a reminder of how fraught the game-reviewing process tends to be.

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."