Netflix to Buy Night School Studio to Expand Games Team

At launch, ad-free gaming will be part of a Netflix membership at no additional cost and without in-app purchases.

Netflix announced that they are buying Night School Studio to expand the streaming company’s games team. Night School Studio, known for its debut game OXENFREE, was founded in 2014 by cousins Sean Krankel and Adam Hines. This acquisition builds on the games team Netflix is assembling to add a robust gaming experience to the Netflix experience. Once launched, Netflix games will be included as part of a Netflix membership. Like Netflix shows, games will be ad-free and there will be no in-app purchases required.

“We’re in the early stages of creating a great gaming experience for our members around the world. So we’re excited to announce today Night School Studio is joining Netflix,.” said Mike Verdu, vice president of game development for Netflix, in a September 28, 2021 statement. “We’re inspired by their bold mission to set a new bar for storytelling in games. 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.”

“Surreal honor”

In a separate blog post on Night School Studio’s website, Krankel commented on the Netflix deal.

“Night School wants to stretch our narrative and design aspirations across distinctive, original games with heart. 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,” Krankel said.

“Of course, it’s a surreal honor to be the first games studio to join Netflix! 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,” added Krankel.

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About Night School Studio

As an award-winning, independent game developer, Night School Studio is best known for its player-driven narratives that combine wonder, danger and humor. With a team that includes developers and storytellers from Telltale and Disney, Night School Studio’s best-known games are OXENFREE and OXENFREE II, but they also created Mr. Robot, Afterparty, and Next Stop Nowhere.

Second acquisition in September

The news comes just a week after Netflix announced its plans to buy Roald Dahl Story Company for $686 million, or £500. This acquisition gives Netflix rights to author Roald Dahl’s popular content like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, and the rights to adapt Dahl’s stories into new productions.

Insider Take

Though gaming seems like a bit of a departure for the most popular streaming service, based on membership numbers, Netflix has seen growth in membership decline in the last year or so. As the first major streaming company, new membership was bound to slow at some point, and Netflix is exploring other ways to attract and retain new members. One of their key strategies thus far has been to offer exclusive and original content, and this strategy is working. In fact, it is the primary reason that Netflix won 44 Emmys, more than any other network in the 73rd annual Emmy awards. Because of the significant competition by gaming-first companies (e.g., Nintendo, Sony, etc.), Netflix’s best bet is to acquire popular games and gaming developers before launching their gaming experience for members.