You must have noticed it too; a trickle of folks on LinkedIn posting those big red Ns as they join Netflix’s new games team.
By the end of 2021, that trickle of people joining the streaming giant was more like, well, a stream.
Where fellow tech giants Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook have trod a little more carefully and quietly as they entered the games space, Netflix is hiring top names from top games companies by the bucketful. And it only really started last summer.
Let’s start at the top. Mike Verdu is familiar to many as the former EA, Kabam and Facebook exec who jumped first in July 2021. And last week, 11-year PlayStation veteran Roberto Barrera confirmed he’d be joining as head of games strategy. In the intervening months, a glut of other well-known names joined.
In November, Verdu appointed an expanded leadership team. Former Scopely president Amir Rahimi joined as VP of Netflix’s game studios, and Leanne Lombe left her role as director at Riot Games to become Netflix’s head of external game development.
Fellow Riot alumnus Andrew Brownwell left Boundless Entertainment to take up a role as Netflix Games designer and creative director, and Richard Sun moved over from Facebook/Meta to become Netflix Games’ technical director.
Completing the leadership team are Christopher Lee, who has been at Netflix for almost six years as marketing director, then head of interactive games, and now as head of game sourcing. Head of operations at Netflix Games Yoko Nakao, a former FoxNext and Kabam exec, joined in August 2021, one of founders of the new Netflix Games team underneath Verdu.
In December, Netflix Games appointed two new executive producers: Ex-Humble Bundle production director Rodrigo Aguilar, and Margaret McClure. The latter is another ex-Rioter who moved over from her most recent role leading Facebook/Meta’s reality labs games team.
The hires kept coming in January. Blizzard producer Ian McEwan moved into a new role as program management lead at Netflix Games, and another ex-PlayStation director, Alex Lee, was appointed Netflix Games’ head of development operations.
Also in January, two ex-Apple folks made the short journey from Cupertino to Netflix HQ. Former App Store business manager Luke Micono joined Netflix Games as games business development manager, and Apple Arcade program manager Julian Chunovic joined its external games production team.
The moves will continue, too. At the time of publication Netflix has 10 open games roles at its Los Gatos and Los Angeles offices, encompassing QA, internal development, ops, UX, partnerships, live services and more. There are five open roles at Oxenfree maker Night School Studio, which was acquired in September 2021.
The $72m buyout of Next Games, announced earlier this month, adds extra spice to the Netflix Games story. Next has operated live games based on big TV series through its Walking Dead games for years – sounds like an ideal fit for Netflix and its armfuls of popular IP, right? It also gives the streaming giant a foothold outside the US and inside a key talent market: Helsinki. So expect plenty more roles to open over there in the coming months, too.
Clearly, this is just the beginning. The big red Ns in your LinkedIn feeds will just keep on coming, for weeks, months and years to come.