Netflix Games bags Oxenfree and rolls out in Spain and Italy

29 Sep 2021

Image: Netflix

The streaming giant said it is still in the ‘early stages’ of its gaming experience.

Netflix is further expanding its push in the gaming industry with the acquisition of US video game developer Night School Studio.

Based in Glendale, California, Night School Studio is the creator of the Stranger Things-like mystery adventure game Oxenfree. Its sequel, Oxenfree II, is currently in development.

“We are currently in the process of creating a great gaming experience for our members around the world. That’s why we’re excited to announce today that Night School Studio is now part of Netflix,” said VP of game development at Netflix, Mike Verdu, in a company statement.

Founded in 2014 by cousins Sean Krankel and Adam Hines, Night School released Oxenfree in 2016. Since then, it has released two more games, Afterparty and Next Stop Nowhere.

Krankel said in a blog post that he was excited to get “a front-row seat on the biggest entertainment platform in the world” and that his company will continue to develop the Oxenfree sequel along with new games.

“Night School wants to stretch our narrative and design aspirations across distinctive, original games with heart,” he said. “Our explorations in narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting diverse storytellers was such a natural pairing.”

Expansion plans

In July, the streaming giant confirmed it plans to expand into the area of gaming, after much speculation.

In a letter to shareholders announcing its second-quarter earnings, the company said it would be undertaking the diversification, building on it “earlier efforts around interactivity” such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and its Stranger Things games.

In August, Netflix began a limited launch of its mobile gaming service in Poland. Android users in the country could download two pre-existing games, Stranger Things: 1984 and Stranger Things 3, through the Netflix app.

Yesterday (28 September), Netflix announced in a tweet that it is rolling out Netflix Games on Android phones in Spain and Italy. The tweet also included an image of the feature in the app’s interface. “We’re still in the early stages of our gaming experience, however here’s a snapshot of what’s new,” the tweet read.

Verdu said Night School has an “ambitious mission” to create new standards for storytelling in games. “The commitment to artistic brilliance and the track record to date make it an invaluable partner with whom we can jointly expand the creative possibilities and the library of Netflix Games.”

He added that Netflix will continue to look for the best talent in video game development to expand its offering of games to a wider audience based on different types of players and levels of skill. The games library will be included in the Netflix membership package, with no ads or in-app purchases.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic