Netflix and Video Games – The Foray into the Pixel Space

Netflix has become an all-encompassing entity within the world in recent times; its presence permeating in millions of homes throughout the world. Production on regular original content has also been made possible all through the high volume of people using their services.

Not content with ruling over the television world, Netflix wants to broaden their horizons and is seemingly also moving into the video game landscape.

Like their venture into television, they have started small. One of the first projects was a mobile game based on the property of one of their most acclaimed series original series, Stranger Things.

The game was developed by BonusXP for the iOS and Android platforms and released on 4 October 2017. Set after the first season but before the then-upcoming second season, the game was seen to serve as an in-between story to satiate eager fans before the second season premiered. The gameplay was a reasonably simple top-down adventure game, akin to the NES game The Legend of Zelda.

After the release of the Stranger Things mobile game, Netflix started to be more ambitious with how they combined their properties with the video game medium. With the popularity of interactive games at the time, it seemed to be the next logical platform upon which the streaming service could delve into.

And so, came about the creation of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the first ever interactive film on the service. Released on 28 December 2018, Bandersnatch combined the morbid alternative-reality elements from the Black Mirror series with various choices at specific points for the audience to choose from, presenting different outcomes for each individual and creating a unique viewing experience.

Bandersnatch is not the last one of these interactive series to be made. You vs. Wild premiered just a couple of months ago on 10 April 2019, with Netflix trying a limited television series format. The series takes on the popular Man vs. Wild concept and intertwines the interactive choice system from before.

Interactive films and television series is all fine and good, but it isn’t quite like a video game. Netflix knows this, and it is probably why they are also fast moving onto the traditional video game platforms.

At the 2018 Game Awards, a major video game event that happens around the end of the year, creators of Stranger Things The Duffer Brothers, came out on stage to personally announce the new game based on their show, Stranger Things 3: The Game.

Unlike the previous Stranger Things game, this game is slated to also appear on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC in addition to mobile platforms. The story of the game is also set to follow that of the upcoming third season. The gameplay is also different than that of the previous game, having a more beat ’em up style along with light RPG systems within the game.

Another mobile game based on the Stranger Things universe was also recently announced at E3 2019; a location-based RPG/puzzle game slated to appear in 2020. Lastly, a new game based on the Netflix show, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, was also revealed to be coming out in 2019; aptly named The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics because of its turn-based tactics elements.

To have three games announced at two of the biggest gaming events indicates a show of intent from the streaming giant; they want as many ears as possible trained on any video game related news they have.

All three recently announced games are being worked on by relatively small studios, BonusXP and Next Games. So for their future projects, Netflix is attempting to be more ambitious. They announced a partnership with Roblox, Ubisoft, and Behaviour Interactive to produce games from their original series to extend the lore and characters from their universe.

Ubisoft and Behavioral Interactive are very interesting revelations, in particular, being that they are behind some of the most popular games right now such as the Assassin’s Creed franchise and the Dead by Daylight game respectively.

Seeing Netflix partner with developers of such calibre, might it be time to be excited finally? Netflix has gotten criticism in recent times of doing too many things at once, resulting in the diminished quality of their shows, but there is little doubt that some of their shows have enough potential to become the basis of a terrific video game.

Netflix Devices

Shows like Black Mirror, Ozark and Narcos not only have a gripping narrative behind the show but also have interesting aspects about the world and characters to transfer over to a medium like video games.

It remains to be seen what shows will be transported over to the video game world, but it looks increasingly likely that not only will Netflix dominate the television world, but soon the video game world too.

Visuals courtesy of Netflix.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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