Xbox’s Joseph Staten is Joining Netflix to Build a New Video Game

Video games are a $184 billion industry, and Netflix wants a bigger piece of it. But less than 1 percent of its subscribers play its games.

A gaming controller sits on a keyboard, under a screen showing the Netflix logo
Netflix continues to build out its gaming business by hiring Joseph Staten. NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Staten, who helped build Xbox and computer games at Microsoft (MSFT) and most recently worked as creative director of Halo Infinite, has joined Netflix (NFLX) to develop a video game, he announced on Twitter yesterday (April 17). Staten will work as creative director of a new “AAA” game, which constitutes a major project with a large budget and development team.

The game will be multiplatform, he said, which means users can play it on different gaming machines. For example, Netflix’s game Spiritfarer—where players build a virtual boat to transport spirits to the afterlife—can be played on PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and on mobile. Netflix is developing a cloud gaming service that will make cross-platform play easier, the Verge reported.

“In my work life, there’s nothing I love more than collaborating with others to build worlds filled with iconic characters, deep mysteries, and endless adventures,” he said on Twitter.

In recent months, Netflix has worked to build out its gaming business. Its library offers 55 games, up from 35 six months ago, and the streaming giant is reportedly developing 40 more titles to release by the end of the year. Its games are only available to Netflix subscribers. Users have to leave the Netflix app to download its games—a somewhat clunky process the company intends to update but not anytime soon, head of external games Leanne Loombe told Wired. Some of its games tie into series it owns, like Stranger Things and Too Hot to Handle. As the streaming industry matures and consumers increasingly pare down the number of platforms they pay for, a robust gaming offering could sway consumers to keep Netflix over its competitors.

It is unclear if the business move will pay off. As of last year, less than 1 percent of Netflix users, or 1.7 million people, played the streaming giant’s games, CNBC reported. The company has acquired four gaming studios, and while it didn’t disclose financial details for three of the acquisitions, one cost 65 million euros ($72 million).

Video gaming is the largest category of entertainment, earning $184 billion in 2022, which is more than the film and music industries, according to the Federal Trade Commission. And it’s continuing to grow, with 2023 likely an inflection year, Morgan Stanley reported. The video games sector and Hollywood are becoming increasingly synergetic with hits like HBO’s The Last of Us, a television series that reached an average of 30.4 million viewers and was based on a 2013 video game. Netflix has also developed titles based on video games, including The Witcher, Resident Evil and Arcane, based on League of Legends. 

Who is Joseph Staten?

Before joining Netflix, Staten, 50, worked as the creative head of Halo Infinite—for Microsoft-owned 343 Industries—an award-winning first-person shooter game that launched in 2021.  He previously spent a decade working on other Halo content at Microsoft. In addition to writing dialogue for the video game series, he wrote a New York Times bestselling science fiction book called Halo: Contact Harvest. 

Staten also helped develop games like Destiny, ReCore and Crackdown 3 in his career. He spent six years as a senior creative director at Microsoft Studios, now known as Xbox Game Studios.

Xbox’s Joseph Staten is Joining Netflix to Build a New Video Game