Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once said Netflix competes with the video game Fortnite more than HBO.
Now, Netflix plans to take Fortnite head-on. The streamer has hired Mike Verdu, a veteran of the gaming companies Electronic Arts, Kabam and Zynga, to be vice president of game development, a company spokesperson said Wednesday, confirming a Bloomberg News report.
Hastings’ statement points to just how broad the company considers its competition. Netflix doesn’t just compete with other streaming services. It competes with almost everything consumers do and just about everything that has a claim on their time — and, increasingly, consumers are spending more time playing video games.
Verdu will head an expansion into video games that could launch within the next year, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.
Verdu joins Netflix from Facebook, where he had been working to expand the video game offering on Oculus virtual-reality headsets. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014.
Netflix’s foray into video games, which industry insiders have been expecting for months, comes as the company seeks new revenue streams amid plateauing growth in the U.S. Video games are the entertainment industry’s fastest-growing segment and were widely seen as an obvious area of expansion for the company.