The world’s largest streaming giant, Netflix, set its sights on the video game industry, acquiring rights to IPs for adaptation purposes, as well as assets that would help the company secure its place in the gaming market. This is confirmed in our previous report regarding Netflix entering the video gaming race when the company hired a former EA and Facebook executive to lead the effort. Now, Netflix acquired its first video game studio.
According to Kotaku, Netflix has acquired Night School Studio, a video game development studio founded by former Telltale Games employees, best known for Oxenfree, an intriguing mystery game, and Afterparty – a barhopping gaming journey through Hell. Though now officially Netflix’s subsidiary, Night School Studio has confirmed that the development of Oxenfree 2 is still underway and unaffected by Netflix’s acquisition of the studio. During a press release, Night School Studio co-founder Sean Krankel said that the pairing was a natural step caused by a years-long partnership.
As a result, Night School is officially the first video game development studio under Netflix’s publishing, giving Netflix a solid base to finally enter the video game market – something the company wanted to jump into for quite some time. Netflix has partnered with several game developers in the past, including the aforementioned Telltale Games on a now-canceled Stranger Things video game adaptation, to release gaming titles directly tied to its licensed IPs. And though the game was since-canceled, it introduced Night School Studio to Netflix through Netflix’s partnership with Telltale Games.
Originally, Telltale Games planned to adapt Stranger Things, a massively successful Netflix original sci-fi horror drama television series, as an adventure game that would bridge Seasons 2 and 3 of the series. The company contracted Night School Studio to develop a first-person companion gaming title that would serve as an introduction narrative to Telltale’s game. Due to their higher volume of work, due to their new contract with Telltale, and their work on Afterparty, Night School Studio brought in four additional staff members to help with the Stranger Things adaptation.
Unfortunately, Telltale had several internal issues throughout 2017 and 2018, leading to difficulties in communication between Telltale and Night School, mainly due to Telltale’s failure to pay for completed milestones. Subsequently, Telltale announced its surprise closure in October 2018, leaving Netflix and Night School’s Stranger Things video game adaptation in development limbo, with no real work being done on the title. However, Night School Studio didn’t suffer financial hardships due to the tremendous financial performance of their proprietary title – Afterparty.
Netflix’s acquisition of Night School Studio will allow the streaming giant to invest more directly into video game titles tied to its IPs, though it’s worth mentioning that it’s currently unclear what work Night School Studio will undertake as Netflix’s subsidiary. For example, will it resume its work on a Stranger Things adaptation or an entirely different game? According to Krankel, Night School Studio will continue developing proprietary titles, stating that Netflix has shown utmost care for protecting the studio’s culture and creative vision. But it’s still unclear which one of Netflix’s IPs is getting its video game adaptation first.