Netflix’s venture into games is growing as evidenced by one of its recent purchases. The streaming giant has acquired Night School Studio, the game developer most known for its narrative video games like Oxenfree and Afterparty. This is Netflix’s first game studio acquisition.
Founder and Creative Director Sean Krankel went on the studio’s website to speak more about the deal. He said that he’d been talking to the team about where they see games and storytelling and where they see themselves in the mix. And while he stated that he also had butterflies in his stomach, he was also drawn to the freedom Netflix would be able to provide.
“Night School wants to stretch our narrative and design aspirations across distinctive, original games with heart,” he said. “Netflix gives film, TV, and now game makers an unprecedented canvas to create and deliver excellent entertainment to millions of people. Our explorations in narrative gameplay and Netflix’s track record of supporting diverse storytellers was such a natural pairing. It felt like both teams came to this conclusion instinctively.”
That freedom appears to be extending to its currently announced project, Oxenfree II. The follow-up to the 2016 adventure game is supposed to come “soon” to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC. However, going under Netflix’s wing doesn’t seem to be changing this, much like the deal to put the Microsoft-owned, Bethesda-published Deathloop on PS5 and the Microsoft-published Psychonauts 2 on PS4.
“Of course, it’s a surreal honor to be the first games studio to join Netflix!” he said. “Not only do we get to keep doing what we do, how we like to do it, but we get a front-row seat on the biggest entertainment platform in the world. The Netflix team has shown the utmost care for protecting our studio culture and creative vision. We’ll keep making Oxenfree II. We’ll keep cooking up new game worlds.”
VP of Game Development Mike Verdu gave his own thoughts on Netflix’s site. He said that Netflix will “continue working with developers around the world and hiring the best talent in the industry” while also calling out Night School’s specific talents.
“We’re inspired by their bold mission to set a new bar for storytelling in games,” he said. “Their commitment to artistic excellence and proven track record make them invaluable partners as we build out the creative capabilities and library of Netflix games together.”
Night School is known for its narrative-focused titles, which makes sense given how some of its members used to work at Telltale. Oxenfree was the team’s debut hit in 2016 because of its witty script and creative branching dialogue system. It was quickly followed by Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n, a mobile game that was based off the hit USA Network show Mr. Robot. Afterparty, its 2019 title about two young adults in Hell that must outdrink Satan to escape, was a return to its Oxenfree-style of game. After venturing out with the mobile game Next Stop Nowhere in 2020, the developer announced its return to the Oxenfree series.