Cloud gaming is gaining more traction of late, as it allows users to play AAA games from anywhere in the world and on any device (such as mobile, TV, or PC) without the need to invest in expensive hardware.
After venturing into the mobile games market, Netflix is looking to expand its reach by launching a new cloud gaming studio in Southern California.
For the unversed, this is the fifth studio of the popular streaming service, following its creation of a new internal Helsinki team and taking over of studios such as Oxenfree developer Night School Studio, Boss Fight Entertainment, and Next Games.
The news was confirmed by Mike Verdu, Netflix’s Vice President of game development during the TechCrunch Disrupt event on Tuesday.
“We’re very seriously exploring a cloud gaming offering. We’ll approach this the same way as we did with mobile — start small, be humble, be thoughtful — but it is a step we think we should take. The extension into the cloud is really about reaching the other devices where people experience Netflix,” he said.
Chacko Sonny, who resigned from his role as an executive producer on Overwatch at Blizzard Entertainment in September last year, will be leading Netflix’s new cloud gaming studio in Southern California.
“We are building a team around [Sonny] and looking to him to help reinvent what games can be,” Verdu said.
“He could have done anything, but he chose to come here. You don’t get people like that coming to your organization to build the next big thing in gaming unless there’s a sense that we’re really in it for the long haul and in it for the right reasons.”
While Verdu did not disclose exact details about the cloud gaming service, he suggested that the company is looking to launch more than just casual games on TVs. He also said that the games would not rely on TV remotes for input.
Currently, Netflix Games offers 35 mobile gaming titles, including Oxenfree, Into The Breach, and Desta: The Memories Between, a new title by Monument Valley studio Ustwo Games. It has an additional 55 game titles in the works, of which 14 titles are “in development” across its own studios.
The news of Netflix’s venture into cloud gaming follows after search giant Google announced that it is shutting down its cloud gaming platform, Stadia after three years of launch. The company said that it was forced to shut down the service, as it didn’t gain the traction with users that they had expected.
Stadia players will however continue to have access to their games library and play through January 18, 2023, so they can complete final play sessions. But, they will lose track of all the advancement made in the game, as a majority of the games on the Google platform does not support cross-progress play.
When questioned about Stadia’s failure, Verdu claimed that Google’s service “was a technical success,” adding: “It was fun to play games on Stadia. It had some issues with the business model.”
However, Verdu is hopeful of Netflix succeeding in the field of cloud gaming service, as it will be a valuable addition to the company’s business model. He also said that the streaming giant is not asking people to subscribe to it as a console replacement, as it’s built off a different business model.
“The hope is over time that it just becomes this very natural way to play games wherever you are,” he added.
Currently, it’s unclear what Netflix’s cloud gaming service would look like or what games would be slotted into its cloud infrastructure. Since the development is in the nascent stages, we will have to wait and watch how it shapes up. Keep watching this space for more updates!