Netflix Takes Baby Steps Into Video Gaming

Netflix made its presence known at gaming conference E3 this year.

The company, known for its streaming video service, is getting its toes wet with video games. It’s just one of the ways it’s trying to expand beyond its roots.

On Wednesday, Netflix announced that it would work with developer Next Games to create a third mobile game based on its hit series Stranger Things. That game, expected to be available in 2020, follows the debut of Stranger Things: The Game from 2017. Stranger Things 3: The Game also drops July 4, the same day the third season of the show premieres.

“Shortly after season one of Stranger Things, we realized this is a phenomenon. It was our first attempt at doing consumer products and merchandise. We had never done anything like that before,” Chris Lee, director of interactive games at Netflix, said on stage at E3.

In another twist on the video game theme, Nintendo showed off a new game that will be available on its Switch console based on the 1982 movie Dark Crystal that will be adapted into a Netflix series. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will premiere in August. The show is distributed by Netflix, and the game is developed by the studio BonusXP, which also makes Stranger Things: The Game and Stranger Things 3: The Game.

The potential for cross pollination between the video game industry and companies focused on other kinds of entertainment is creating a lot of excitement in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Doug Bowser, president of Nintendo of America, said that the mixing is a good opportunity for both sides to reach a broader audience.

“I think it’s interesting to see how various forms of entertainment are able to transfer themselves onto other platforms in other ways,” he said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for all of us.”

Netflix’s Lee said that he saw an opportunity to expand into the gaming industry prior to a meeting with Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer. The group met to discuss all areas of merchandise before the team realized they had untapped potential in gaming.

Says Lee, “The idea is we would take our original series and films and then find a game developer from the industry who’s just as passionate about that content and work closely together with them to bring these things in an authentic way to games.”

Netflix hasn’t given details on any other potential spin-off games, but there’s plenty of potential with its massive library of original shows and movies.

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