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Netflix Levels Up on Gaming with Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed

The streaming giant and the France-based gaming company are teaming up for three exclusive mobile games, including a new entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber and a gaming fanatic, you’ve gotten some increasingly terrific news in the past 48 hours.

During Ubisoft’s Forward showcase, Netflix announced a partnership the France-base video game company to develop exclusive mobile games for their Assassin’s Creed, Valiant Hearts, and Mighty Quest franchises, all which will be available to play free of charge for Netflix subscribers.

Venturing into the gaming space isn’t something particularly new for the streaming giant, but the scope of this deal is something new, as it is fully expected to include more than just these three initial offerings. It’s part of the company’s plans on building on past successes in creating previous mobile games around Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Stranger Things.

Netflix announced plans to develop a live-action Assassin’s Creed television show back in 2020. Their current deal for the IP includes multiple series, with the first as a “genre-bending-live-action-epic,” while other approaches will include animation.

In addition to Assassins Creed, Netflix and Ubisoft have similar plans for their new Valiant Hearts game — a sequel to Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War — set to arrive in Jan. 2023. Furthermore, their Mighty Quest project will “celebrate the series’ premiere hack-and-slash combat in a fresh and highly repayable format,” per their press release.

“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation, and unscripted TV,” the company said as part of its Q2 earnings release. “Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices.”

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Building it Out

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix saw an opportunity to push things further while millions were stuck inside their homes. Now, their vision is coming to life — and it was made possible thanks in part to the additional industry expertise they added to the fold.

In July 2021, the company hired Mike Verdu as its new President of Game Development. Verdu founded his own defense software company at 20 years old and later shifted his team into video games in 1990. Here are just a few of his many stops in the gaming world before his latest gig:

  • Facebook: Vice President of Game Development
  • Electronic Arts (EA): Senior Vice President of Mobile
  • Atari: Studio Head

The Competition

The global gaming industry is currently valued at $300 billion — more than the combined values of the movie and music industries. Specifically, the growing feasibility and popularity of mobile gaming changed the dynamics of the market, and Netflix rightly considers this space to be ripe for development.

Their main competitors have a little advantage already; iPhone and Android users have plenty of offerings from top publishers like Activision Blizzard, Sega, Niantic, and Nintendo for years, while handhelds like the latter’s Switch and Valve’s Steam Deck have brought an even wider variety of mobile experiences to the market. Just last month, Sony jump-started its own mobile division by acquiring Savage Gaming Studios.

Netflix’s best competitive advantage, meanwhile, leans on both its massive existing subscriber base and emphasis on free-to-play. And no matter where their gaming ambitions take them, leveraging its gigantic streaming footprint to make a major splash across mobile gaming space and TV and film development might lead to an even more successful company — and even more reasons for stragglers to sign up at long last.

All told, it’s something we’ve never really seen before.

Sorry, Redbox.

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