Netflix creates Stranger Things mobile game to diversify mediums

Netflix will be launching its “Stranger Things” mobile game in 2020 at the E3 gaming conference in the United States. This comes as part of a wider push to extend the universe of Netflix’s programming into other mediums, said the company.

In a press release, Netflix said it is working with game developers to build games that will give fans the opportunity to play their favourite Netflix series and films in video games. Through the move, it aims to drive fandom by creating video games based on popular movies and TV shows.

The “Stranger Things” mobile game will be set in “The Upside Down” realm known in the science-fiction television series, and use GPS to follow players in their exploration as the battle emerging evils. Meanwhile, “Stranger Things 3: The Game” for consoles and PCs announced in December will be available on 4 July in conjunction with Stranger Things third season premiere.

Netflix will also launch a strategy video game spun off  “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” movie in 2019. The game named “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics” will be available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC and Mac. Additionally, the company will partner Roblox, Ubisoft and Behaviour Interactive to feature Netflix original characters and worlds in games.

In a conversation with Marketing, Amit Sutha, group managing director of UM Malaysia and Ensemble said media companies generally make money via advertising, subscription or both. Netflix largely has a subscription strategy with some “high quality branded” partnerships integrated into the content.

“While Netflix does operate on over-the-top (OTT) platforms, it should not be seen as an OTT platform given the content it creates – which then in turn become brands in their own right. As such, it makes sense for the company to diversify their mediums to widen the reach of their content brands,” said Sutha.

“Consumers are already consuming content around Netflix shows on independent platforms and now they have the option to interact with Netflix content via games. This drives up audiences engagement and interaction and builds longevity because the more time consumers spend with you, the less they spend with others,” he added. Moreover, mobile games also offer Netflix a revenue generating potential given consumers often pay for other in-game purchases.

“Eventually this can be translated to on-ground events or even games such as PokemonGo which will allow for more interaction on multiple platforms, each lasting longer than the last. Netflix will own the entertainment time of its customers and monetise it across platform,” he added.

Meanwhile, Entropia’s senior partner Prashant Kumar said that it is not surprising for Netflix to want a slice of the highly lucrative gaming market. This is especially so as Netflix is challenged to change its model and innovate, in the face of competition from the likes of Disney. “We live in times where engaging stories are consumed in a multitude of formats – original core content, games, social content, fan fiction, extended reality experiences, and so on. Clearly there is money to be made in each of these,” he said.

According to Bloomsberg, Netflix is licensing the characters and not developing or producing the video games itself. Chris Lee, director of interactive games at Netflix, said during a panel at the E3 video-game expo that the move towards video games is an “obvious” one as it looks for opportunities to expand into other mediums, according to the news report.

Netflix has been experimental with its original programming recently. Earlier this year, it launched the Bandersnatch episode as the new season of Black Mirror, blending gaming elements that allow viewers to make choices to influence the story development.