• Netflix is replacing Mike Verdu, the executive in charge of its games business.
  • Netflix launched its games division in 2021, aiming to replicate Apple's Apple Arcade.
  • The gaming strategy's success is unclear, and internal debates over monetization persist.

Netflix owns streaming. Video games is another story. The company launched a games division in 2021, but so far, its strategy has been puzzling, and the results don't appear to be overwhelming.

Which is perhaps why Mike Verdu, the games industry veteran hired to run its gaming division, is reportedly moving on to a new, as-yet-to-be-defined role. His replacement? Yet-to-be-announced.

Gamesindustry.biz, which reported on Verdu's departure, wrangled this quote from him, which doesn't illuminate much: "I am so proud of what we've accomplished, and excited to start a new team at Netflix on the cutting edge of game innovation. New technologies have always been key to creativity in games development and, as an entrepreneur at heart, this initiative is right in my happy place."

I've asked Netflix for comment.

Until then, this is what we know: Netflix launched its games unit three years ago as its first real departure from streaming movies and TV shows. The idea was to create its own version of Apple's Apple Arcade offering: free, easy-to-play games for your phone that didn't have ads and never asked users to pay up to buy additional levels or anything else.

The logic, per then-CEO Reed Hastings: Netflix users also played a lot of video games. So why not give them video games on Netflix, too?

And, sure, Netflix executives argued, they didn't have any competency in building, buying, and distributing games. But they didn't know anything about making their own TV shows when they started back in 2011, and things worked out pretty well for them in the long run.

But it's never been clear why, exactly, Netflix's selection of casual games would add value for its customers, who can get that sort of thing in lots of places.

And while Netflix has continued to say that games are important for them, there seems to be some debate about that internally: Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that some Netflix officials were interested in putting ads into the games or finding other ways to turn them into revenue. For the record: The games push is one of the duties assigned to current Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters.

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