Netflix Has Acquired Its First Video Game Studio

Netflix Has Acquired Its First Video Game Studio
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain / Staff, Getty Images

Forging ahead with its bizarre plans to expand into the video game space, Netflix has reportedly acquired Night School Studio, an indie game developer that will mark the first acquisition of its kind for the streaming platform.

Night School Studio has a couple of hit games on its roster, including 2019’s Afterparty, which takes place in a college town in hell, and 2016’s Oxenfree, which, according to the studio’s website, is a “supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift.” (Sound familiar?) In fact, the connections between Night School Studio and the hit Netflix original Stranger Things go beyond the superficial: the studio had been working on a hybrid puzzle game based on the series back in 2018 when unexpected layoffs forced the project’s sudden shutdown.

In a statement, Mike Verdu, vice president of game development at Netflix, said that the platform’s initial game offerings will be completely free, without ads or the option for in-app purchases, and would be “exclusive games designed for every kind of gamer and any level of play.”

The announcement of the acquisition comes just one day after Netflix revealed that its early library of mobile games, which debuted to Android users in Poland in August, would also be rolling out for free to subscribers in Spain and Italy. Although the games don’t require any purchase to play, they do, curiously, require an external download, with potential users who find them within the Netflix mobile app being redirected to the Google Play Store in order to install the game on their devices.

Netflix has signalled for months now that it sees itself as a prospective player in the gaming space, an initiative no doubt meant to help it amass an even bigger slice of the media pie that it has thus far dominated with streaming content like television shows and movies.

In a statement on Night School’s website, Sean Krankel, who founded the small studio in 2014, praised the Netflix team for demonstrating “…the utmost care for protecting our studio culture and creative vision.”

“Netflix gives film, TV and now game makers an unprecedented canvas to create and deliver excellent entertainment to millions of people,” Krankel said. “Our explorations in narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting diverse storytellers was such a natural pairing.”