Netflix launches in-house games studio headed by Lastikka Marko

Netflix is ​​establishing an in-house games studio in Helsinki, Finland, announcing that it will be led by former Zynga and Electronic Arts head Marko Lastikka as studio head.

“This is another step in our vision to build a world-class games studio that will bring a variety of delicious and deeply engaging original games – ad-free and without in-app purchases – to our hundreds of millions of members around the world, Amir Rahimi, VP of Game Studios at Netflix, wrote in a blog post announcing the studio’s launch. Rahimi joined Netflix in November 2021, having served as President of Games for Scopely; prior to that, he was SVP and GM of FoxNext.

Netflix launched its push into gaming last summer and now boasts more than two dozen titles in its catalog. The idea is that games, included as part of its basic video streaming service, will reduce churn and increase customer perception of value.

The in-house Helsinki game studio will be Netflix’s fourth studio, having acquired three independent game studios: Night School Studio, known for the supernatural mystery adventure title ‘Oxenfree’; Next Games, a mobile game developer also based in Helsinki, whose titles include ‘Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales’ and two based on AMC’s TV series ‘The Walking Dead’; and Boss Fight Entertainment (“Dungeon Boss”).

Why is Netflix Games moving to Helsinki? According to Rahimi, the city is “home to some of the best gaming talent in the world”, and noted that Helsinki is also home to Next Games.

“Making a game can take years, so I’m proud to see how steadily we build the foundations of our game studios in our first year, and I look forward to sharing what we produce in the years to come” , wrote Rahimi.

At Zynga – which was acquired by Take-Two Interactive earlier this year – Lastikka was co-founder and managing director of game development studio Zynga Helsinki, working on “FarmVille 3”. Prior to joining Zynga in January 2017, he was co-founder and managing director of EA Helsinki’s game studio tracktwenty, responsible for the creation and live service of the mobile game “SimCity BuildIt”.

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