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Netflix gets into gaming with Oxenfree developer acquisition

Netflix has officially entered the gaming business with the acquisition of Night School Studio, the developer of the critically acclaimed Oxenfree.

The American developer revealed that it had become the first game developer to join the Netflix family in a post on its website on Tuesday.

“Our explorations in narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting diverse storytellers was such a natural pairing,” said Night School Studios co-founder Sean Krankel. “It felt like both teams came to this conclusion instinctively.”

Few specifics were offered in terms of the games that Night School would be working on under the Netflix banner, but it sounds like fans of Oxenfree needn’t worry too much. The company has confirmed that it will keep making Oxenfree II, and will also “keep cooking up new game worlds”.

More generally, Krankel claims that his team will “get to keep doing what we do, how we like to do it”, which means “distinctive, original games with heart” and a strong narrative focus.

As for Netflix, this move forms part of a wider plan to add gaming into its subscription service, “hiring the best talent in the industry to deliver a great collection of exclusive games designed for every kind of gamer and any level of play”.

These games will be included as part of your Netflix subscription, with “no ads and no in-app purchases”. That last point at least will be music to traditional gamers’ ears.

Back in July, the streaming giant hired former EA, Zynga, and Oculus bigwig Mike Verdu to head up its gaming initiative. More recently, the company has been testing a mobile games service in Europe through its Android app.

Prior to this, Netflix had only really dabbled in gaming culture. The release of 2018’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch presented subscribers with a hybrid ‘choose your own adventure’ experience, splicing traditional drama with interactive mechanics.

The company has also invested in animated content based on gaming IP, such as Castlevania and DOTA, with some success.

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