Night School Studio Joins Netflix as Both Companies Continue to Change Storytelling

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By Josh Nichols on September 30th, 2021

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Night School Studio announced it’s been added to Netflix’s Instant Queue of storytellers. It’s a pretty big leap for a small indie studio started in 2014 but the team has done a lot to push storytelling since its inception, and not just in terms of what’s possible with video games.

Oxenfree was only released in 2016 but it sent a message loud and clear all around the world. Founded by Sean Krankel and Adam Hines in 2014, Night School Studio was started as a way to continue the duo’s vision of telling unique stories through the magic and imagination of video games. Oxenfree made that very clear with a combination of mechanics that worked in tandem to tighten immersion, storytelling, and the gap between the player and characters on-screen.

Blending gameplay actions with dialogue and stopping the age-old curse of removing control from players while characters are doing “story stuff” helped remove a weird invisible obstacle that had always been there. Something as simple as forcing the player’s attention for a few important moments had seemingly been putting up invisible barriers for decades. And now, Night School Studio can continue to hone their craft and storytelling as a whole with a little help from Netflix.

In a press release, Sean Krankel shared some brief details that help highlight the shared vision between the two entertainment companies. He shares how Netflix and Night School Studio have been talking for months about how their “respective visions” collide at the center “for where we see games, storytelling, and our collective opportunity for positive impact.”

And from what it sounds like, this acquisition very well could just make both companies better at what they already do so well. Krankel provides some comfort for anyone worried about future classes with Night School Studio.

“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.”

-Sean Krankel

It’s also great news for fans of Night School Studio and the games the company has released so far. Night School Studio was a successful developer before Netflix. The video game community quickly saw how special games like Oxenfree and Afterparty were, and the upcoming Oxenfree II: Lost Signals looks more ambitious and creative than ever.

And now people all over the world will be exposed to Night School Studio. Netflix is one of the biggest entertainment platforms out there, which means a whole lot more people are about to learn about the magic of indie games. This does bend the classification of what kind of developer Night School Studio is, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen a smaller, indie team join up with a bigger company. Double Fine Entertainment and Mojang were both purchased by Microsoft within the last decade and Psychonauts 2 and Minecraft have never been better than ever as a result.

Netflix is already showing its commitment to keeping things good for gamers and Netflix subscribers too. Mike Verdu, Netflix’s VP of Game Development, shared some details on what to expect from Netflix as the streaming giant sharpens its focus on games and game development.

“[Night School Studio’s] 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. We’ll continue working with developers around the world and hiring the best talent in the industry to deliver a great collection of exclusive games designed for every kind of gamer and any level of play.”

-Mike Verdu

Verdu provided another big detail that should give a sigh of relief for anyone worried about the future of Night School Studio and/or Netflix’s video game future.

“Like our shows and films, these games will all be included as part of your Netflix membership — all with no ads and no in-app purchases. Stay tuned for more.”

-Mike Verdu

It will be some time before we start to see the effects of Netflix’s acquisition of Night School Studio but things appear to be off to a good start for both companies and their shared future. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is currently scheduled to release in late 2021 on Nintendo Switch and Steam. We will have to wait and see if it’s available on Netflix at launch or if that will come later.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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