Netflix acquires first video game studio with creator of Oxenfree Night School Studio

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Netflix acquired its first game studio with the acquisition of the creator of Oxenfree Night School Studio. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The Glendale, Calif., Game studio has a staff of 21 and has always pushed the boundaries of storytelling in games. He released Oxenfree in 2016 and worked on Oxenfree II: Lost Signals for the Switch.

And yes, that means Netflix is ​​serious about getting into gaming, and it’s not just focusing on mobile, as the company hinted at in a previous earnings call. The original Oxenfree is available on eight platforms on mobile, console, and PC.

“We are in the early stages of creating a great gaming experience for our members around the world. We are therefore delighted to announce today that Night School Studio is joining Netflix, ”said Mike Verdu, Head of Games at Netflix, in a commentary. blog post.

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Founded by Sean Krankel and Adam Hines in 2014, Night School Studio is best known for the studio’s first game, Oxenfree.

“We are inspired by their bold mission to set a new bar for storytelling in games,” said Verdu. “Their commitment to artistic excellence and their proven track record make them invaluable partners as we together develop the creative capabilities and library of Netflix games. “

Above: Oxenfree was a narrative title released in 2016.

Image Credit: Night School Studio

Verdu noted that there will be no in-app purchases and no ads in Netflix games, which will be available through a Netflix subscription.

In a blog post, Krankel said, “Night School wants to expand our narrative and design aspirations through distinctive and original games with heart. Netflix offers film, television and now game makers an unprecedented canvas to create and deliver great entertainment to millions of people. Our explorations into narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting various storytellers were such a natural pairing. It was as if both teams had come to this conclusion instinctively.

He said the team will continue to create Oxenfree II and concoct new game worlds. There will also be room for more new recruits “to help feed the office hermit crab.”

Gaming ambitions

Above: Mike Verdu is Head of Games at Netflix.

Image Credit: Kabam

The deal doesn’t mean Netflix is ​​going to be in a mad rush to make more acquisitions. Verdu said the company will expand its gaming efforts by partnering up collaboration with established developers and recruiting new people.

In July, Netflix announced that it had hired former Oculus and EA game development leader Verdu to lead its nascent gaming efforts.

The company has been hiring game players for quite some time, and Verdu was the biggest name to join the streaming service for movies and TV shows. The move shows that the company is serious about expanding into games, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings once described (highlighting Fortnite in particular) as Netflix’s biggest competitor for his customers’ time.

Verdu reports to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters. Verdu was the vice president of Facebook in charge of augmented reality and virtual reality content. He was also senior vice president of EA mobile, president of studios and chief creative officer at Kabam, CEO of TapZen, and creative director and co-president of games at Zynga.

Netflix has dabbled in games with titles like a Stranger Things game and The 3% Challenge. The latter is a voice-activated game. And Black mirror: Bandersnatch is a gaming experience because it is an interactive TV show in which the audience makes choices that influence the end of the story.

They were small steps in the games. But Verdu is a serious gaming leader whose career has focused on building comprehensive game portfolios for businesses.

Netflix’s switch to games was anticipated because all the big tech companies recognized the power of gaming, which has grown into a $ 175 billion industry, according to market research Newzoo. In the wake of the pandemic, games are also growing faster than many other forms of entertainment and media, according to a report released this week by PwC.

More mobile games

Scene from Stranger Things 3: The Game.

Above: Scene from Stranger Things 3: The Game.

Image Credit: Netflix

Meanwhile at other news, Netflix is ​​launching into mobile games with the launch of three new mobile titles in certain European markets. Casual games include Shooting Hoops, Teeter Up (both from developer Frosty Pop), and Card Blast (from Rogue Games). They are available for Netflix members in Spain, Italy and Poland. Netflix recently started marketing a members-only mobile game service via Android in Poland.

New titles are displayed through a new Games tab in the Netflix Android app. Netflix subscription credentials are required to play games. Netflix previously released a few titles Stranger Things, Stranger Things: 1984, and Stranger Things 3: The Game.

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