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Netflix (NFLX) To Offer Video Games on Its Streaming Platform – Bloomberg

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Netflix Inc., marking its first big move beyond TV shows and films, is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts Inc. and Facebook Inc. executive to lead the effort.

Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of game development, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.

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Mike Verdu

Source: Netflix Inc.

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 — similar to what Netflix did with documentaries or stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Netflix shares gained as much as 3.3% to $566 in late trading after Bloomberg reported the news. The stock had been up 1.3% this year through Wednesday’s close.

Netflix has been seeking ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the U.S. That’s included building out its kids’ programming, opening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup. The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, but it added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.

Pushing into games would be one of Netflix’s boldest moves yet. In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga Inc. between 2009 and 2012.

Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months, according to the person familiar with the matter. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.

Video games give Netflix another way to lure new customers and also offer something none of its direct competitors currently provides. Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Amazon.com Inc. all have access to live sports, but they don’t have gaming within their main video services.

Ultimately, the move may make it easier for Netflix to justify price increases in coming years. Games also serve the purpose of helping market existing shows.

Many of the largest tech companies do sell gaming options in addition to their video services. Apple Inc. has a platform called Arcade for games — as well as a TV+ service for original video projects. But it charges extra for the gaming.

What Bloomberg Intelligence says:

“This is a natural extension of its Netflix’s content strategy, allowing it to mine intellectual property from popular shows like ‘Stranger Things.’ Though it may not generate much additional revenue, it will help deepen engagement and increase the service’s appeal and pricing power. Don’t expect this to be a turning point, but it shows that the company will explore new formats to increase time spent on the platform.”
— Geetha Ranganathan, BI media analyst

The news jolted shares of GameStop Corp., the video-game retailer that’s been attempting a comeback. It fell as much as 10% in extended trading Wednesday.

Evidence of Netflix’s plans to add games has already begun to appear in files hidden deep within the company’s app, according to research conducted by iOS developer Steve Moser that was shared with Bloomberg.

Netflix has previously licensed the rights to games based on its shows — including “Stranger Things” — but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The Los Gatos, California-based company has yet to settle on a game-development strategy, said the person. In typical Netflix fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there.

Interactive Shows

Netflix also has made earlier forays into interactive programming, such as choose-your-own-adventure-style shows. It created versions of programs like “Carmen Sandiego” and “Black Mirror” in that format, which stops short of being a true video game.

Netflix co-Chief Executive Officers Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos have shared their interest in pushing into gaming in recent calls with analysts. They’ve also identified the battle-royale shooter game Fortnite as a competitor for its customers’ time.

Still, Hollywood studios have a checkered history in the video-game business. Some companies have had a lot of success licensing their movies or TV shows for games, and Warner Bros. has created a handful of hit titles in-house over the years.

But Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, shut down most of its in-house gaming operations after years of unsuccessful efforts. It has since focused on licensing Marvel and Star Wars properties for games.

(Updates with analyst’s comment after 10th paragraph.)

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    Cat simulator 'Stray' heads to PlayStation and PC in early 2022 – Engadget

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    The last time we saw Stray was in the form of a cinematic trailer Sony shared in 2020 that highlighted the game’s futuristic neon-soaked setting and adorable feline protagonist. At the time, we didn’t get to see the game in action, a fact that Annapurna Interactive has now remedied. The publisher shared a slice of gameplay footage from the title during its recent showcase and said it would release Stray sometime in early 2022.

    In the opening moments of Stray, our feline protagonist finds himself injured and separated from his family. Gameplay involves using his physical abilities as a cat to navigate the environment and solve puzzles. In the time-honored tradition of duos like Ratchet and Clank, partway through the adventure, you’ll meet a drone named B-12. They will allow you to converse with the city’s other robotic inhabitants and interact with certain objects in the environment. The cat has a playful side to his personality, and you can do things like scratch furniture, interact with vending machines and rub up against the legs of the robots you meet. Good stuff.

    When Stray comes out next year, it will be available on PlayStation 4, PS5 and PC. Developer BlueTwelve Studio promised to show off more of the game before then.

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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    Cat simulator 'Stray' heads to PlayStation and PC in early 2022 – Yahoo News Canada

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    The last time we saw Stray was in the form of a cinematic trailer Sony shared in 2020 that highlighted the game’s futuristic neon-soaked setting and adorable feline protagonist. At the time, we didn’t get to see the game in action, a fact that Annapurna Interactive has now remedied. The publisher shared a slice of gameplay footage from the title during its recent showcase and said it would release Stray sometime in early 2022.

    In the opening moments of Stray, our feline protagonist finds himself injured and separated from his family. Gameplay involves using his physical abilities as a cat to navigate the environment and solve puzzles. In the time-honored tradition of duos like Ratchet and Clank, partway through the adventure, you’ll meet a drone named B-12. They will allow you to converse with the city’s other robotic inhabitants and interact with certain objects in the environment. The cat has a playful side to his personality, and you can do things like scratch furniture, interact with vending machines and rub up against the legs of the robots you meet. Good stuff.

    When Stray comes out next year, it will be available on PlayStation 4, PS5 and PC. Developer BlueTwelve Studio promised to show off more of the game before then.

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    Sony’s new PS5 beta update also fixes one of its silliest flaws – The Verge

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    The first major system update for Sony’s PlayStation 5 is arriving in beta form today, finally letting you expand the console’s 667GB of usable storage by adding your own PCIe Gen 4 SSD as well as testing new UI options and expanding 3D Audio support. But the full changelog also includes a few features that Sony didn’t highlight to press — including a way to easily update your DualSense controller if you press the wrong button!

    You see, the PS5 currently has a very silly flaw: the only time you can update your controller is when you boot the console. And if you say no or accidentally press the O button instead of X, you can’t trigger that update until 24 hours have passed (or you tweak your PS5’s internal clock to cheat it).

    But in Beta 2.0, there’s now a dedicated menu for that under Settings > Accessories > Controllers called Wireless Controller Device Software. Please forgive my grainy photo.

    You’ll still see controller update prompts when you launch the console, too — and hitting the circle button will still instantly dismiss them.

    The beta also makes one of our other UI frustrations slightly better: the ability to easily turn off the console. It’s still a mystery why Sony switched away from letting you long-press the PS button to requiring extra taps, but at least now you can change how many taps it takes. Pressing the hamburger / start button in the PS5’s quick actions menu now lets you drag any of them (including the PS5’s digital power button) to a different position in that menu.

    Separately, did you know the PS5 lets you set up all kinds of parental controls for your kid on what they can play, watch, and do, and it lets you remotely approve their requests over the web? I didn’t realize that, and the beta update now lets you see and respond to those asks through the latest version of the mobile PlayStation App, not just via email.

    Frankly, it still needs work: it’s a convoluted process that kicks you out to a web browser for setup, requires your kid to be signed into a PlayStation Network account (not just a local profile), has you set up all kinds of limits, and kicks you out to a web browser again (requiring you to log in) when you want to approve a request. And once you let your kid play a particular game, they get to keep playing until you remove it from the whitelist.

    What I want is a simple rich phone notification that effectively lets me tap “yes, you can play this for 30 minutes” or “not right now, kid” and be done with it right away. Perhaps there’s time before the 2.0 software goes gold? Or perhaps in a future update.

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