Netflix is establishing its own video game studio, as the streamer aims to make a name for itself in the gaming industry.
The studio, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, will be led by Marko Lastikka. Lastikka was formerly general manager and executive producer at Electronic Arts as well as co-founder of video game developer Zynga.
Finland is also the home of Next Games – a gaming studio Netflix acquired earlier this year for about $72 million. Alongside Next Games, Netflix scooped up Boss Fight Entertainment in March and Night School Studio in September 2021.
These acquired developers and Netflix’s in-house studio will each have “different strengths and focus areas,” the company said, as they create games that will “suit the diverse tastes” of Netflix’s membership base.
It could take a few years before a Netflix-produced game hits the market, as Netflix added it has “much more work to do to deliver a great games experience.”
To bolster more personalized gameplay, Netflix today rolled out a feature that lets users create a unique in-game handle that can be used across all Netflix games – much like one you would use on a video gaming client like Steam, for example.
Since Netflix reported massive subscriber losses in the first quarter, the streamer has deliberated ways to attract new members and revenue – and video games are at the forefront.
Speaking on the first quarter earnings call, Netflix COO Greg Peters said the company is “very enthusiastic about building internal capacity,” but it’s still figuring out how to get the best business value off gaming.
Netflix started dabbling in video games last August, when it launched an in-app mobile integration of two “Stranger Things” games. The streamer recently announced plans for a spinoff and stage play based off the popular series.
Last November, Netflix launched Netflix Games, boasting a gaming library with no ads or in-app purchases. As of this month, Netflix Games has 33 available games.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Netflix has hired an EA veteran. The company in June tapped Ken Barker as principal accounting officer, only for Netflix to disclose last week Barker will leave the company effective October 7.
Time will tell how Netflix’s gaming ambitions will drive new subscribers. But the streamer’s influence over its existing customer base seems uncertain. In a recent survey, Reviews.org found one in four subscribers plan to cancel their Netflix subscription this year, which could amount to over 18 million U.S. users. Netflix also plans to launch a lower cost, ad-supported tier sometime in 2023.