Netflix is building its own game studio
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Netflix is no longer relying exclusively on third-party teams to bolster its game catalog. The streaming giant is forming an in-house game studio in Helsinki, Finland to create "world-class" original games without ads or in-app purchases. While it's too soon for details of the games themselves, Zynga and EA alumnus Marko Lastikka will serve as director.
Helsinki is a good fit as the home to some of the "best game talent" on the planet, according to Netflix. This includes The Walking Dead mobile developer Next Games (which Netflix bought in March). Netflix has purchased multiple developers, including Boss Fight and Oxenfree creator Night School Studio, but hasn't built a developer from scratch until now.
You won't see the first fruits of this internal studio for "years," Netflix says. Still, this and recent acquisitions show how the company's gaming strategy is evolving. Where Netflix initially depended on outsiders' games, including slightly tweaked versions of existing titles, it's increasingly focused on truly unique projects you won't find elsewhere. In theory, more people will subscribe to Netflix with the game library in mind.
Netflix's push into gaming is part of the company's larger strategy to keep eyeballs on its platform. When Fortnite became a cultural phenomenon in 2018-19, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the battle royale title was more of a threat to it than TV and movie streaming rival HBO. Last year, Netflix began integrating games into its mobile apps, letting users download titles to their phones. The games were largely casual affairs, but there were a few hidden gems, such as Poinpy. At the moment, it's uncertain whether Netflix will stick to more casual titles or aim to make AAA games, like those from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.