Stadia died because no one trusts Google

There’s a lot of chatter right now about the “surprise” shutdown of Stadia, Google’s game-streaming service. While it’s true that rivals like Geforce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming presented entrenched competition, and that Google knows next to nothing about gaming, the main trouble — as with most of its products these days — is that no one trusted them to keep it alive longer than a year or two.

It really is that simple: No one trusts Google. It has exhibited such poor understanding of what people want, need, and will pay for that at this point, people are wary of investing in even its more popular products.

The technical implementation certainly wasn’t to be faulted. I will admit to being a skeptic when they said they could hit the framerates and response times they advertised, but by Jove they did it. At its best, Stadia was better than its competitors and almost magical in how it fulfilled the promise of going from zero to in-game in one second.

The business side of things was never quite so inspiring. There is now a great remembering of the much-mocked pre-launch hype display for Stadia: the doomed Dreamcast, pointless Power Glove, and E.T. for Atari, the game so bad they buried it in a shallow grave, followed by an empty pedestal on which Stadia would soon sit.

Though it’s clear this was a hilarious misunderstanding of… just about everything, it turned out to be quite apropos. Stadia was doomed, pointless, and destined for an undignified death.

The last first; it was only two months ago that Stadia’s Twitter account assured a concerned user that the service was not in fact shutting down.

Image Credits: Google / Twitter

In fact the wheels were probably already in motion, but the higher-ups just hadn’t yet told their social team, or developers, or pretty much anybody this was the plan. It has been reported that a lot of people close to the service were blindsided by the decision — and who wouldn’t be, after the company publicly declared that everything was fine?

For some the writing was on the wall earlier, when the first-party development team put together by Google to create exclusive games was shut down before it got a chance to do just about anything. The company may have miscalculated how long it takes to develop a game from scratch. At least as long as a Google Doodle.

Still, it could have succeeded even without exclusives if it offered a compelling product. Unfortunately Google Stadia was as pointless and showy as the Power Glove. “It’s so bad,” as the meme has it.

As impressive as its execution was, I couldn’t quite figure out who it was for. A huge, huge proportion of gamers who want to play the latest hit, say Deathloop, will already have either a console, a gaming PC, or both. Why would I buy Deathloop for Stadia instead of for my PS5 or on Steam? It will play and look better natively (though Stadia did look surprisingly good), and of course they’ve already invested hundreds into those platforms.

Sure, you could play on the go, or on your laptop or something. But… not only do services to do that already exist, but the experience isn’t really great. Full-price games these days are immersive, major affairs where you sit down for an hour or two on the couch and get into it with the surround sound system blasting. Sure, I wouldn’t mind doing a little inventory management on my laptop during a coffee break at the office, but beyond that, having persistent access to AAA games isn’t much of an advantage.

Meanwhile games like Genshin Impact hit AAA levels and are natively portable — played by millions on phones. Again, why was Stadia a better deal?

It might have made sense if the proposal was you pay $20 a month and some Google sorcery let you play your PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, or PC games all wherever you want. A real platform-agnostic bridge builder type thing, and Google would probably be paying millions behind the scenes for the privilege. Kind of like what Samsung is attempting:

But no. You couldn’t access your existing games — couldn’t even use your own controller! It cost you a bill to get in the door, plus the monthly fee, then you had to buy games on top of that, full price.

And here’s where it was really doomed. Because while people will happily drop a couple bucks here and there for a Google service, no one is going to pay hundreds for something they have a sneaking feeling is going to be completely worthless in short order.

Google’s legacy of killing products is infamous. Its twists and turns on priorities, branding, standards, and everything else have made it clear to everyone that they cannot be trusted with anything beyond their core services, and they even like to screw those up now and then.

I still have my original Super Nintendo, which plays as well as it did the day I brought it home. My Mario Kart and Super Metroid cartridges have been working for… my god, 30 years now. I have games on Steam I bought a decade and more ago that I can load up and play as easily as I did then. There are digital copies of games on my PS3 that would boot right up if I felt like digging it out of storage. These companies and services have built trust over decades to show that they either can’t or won’t pull the rug out from under their customers.

Why do you think the whole P.T. drama was so disturbing? It was truly unexpected: an aggressive and unnecessary destruction of a digital product that people thought they owned. Gamers felt a betrayal.

But with Google the shoe is on the other foot. Google has built nothing but mistrust, outside a handful of products no one wants or needs to change. For me (and dozens more of us) the turning point was the assassination of Google Reader — for which I will never forgive them, and try to regularly exert a small vengeance by mentioning it like so — but plenty of other products have been extended, embraced, and then extinguished (to repurpose the idiom).

Google couldn’t betray me now if they tried — because there’s nothing to betray. To be honest I would be relieved if they screwed up Gmail so badly that I had no choice but to switch — I can’t work up the volition otherwise.

And although there is no doubt that the people for whom Stadia did make sense for whatever reason (and I was happy for them) do feel betrayed, the millions more who squinted and smiled and said “not this time, big G!” are feeling validated. I will say that I’m surprised Google is doing the right thing by offering a truly robust refund. It’s the least they could do, and god knows they have the money.

I don’t think Stadia could ever really have been a success. Its entire model was probably doomed to failure from the start. But even a long shot can be molded into a successful product with a few pivots if the core is solid and it develops a large, invested community. That was never, ever going to be the case for Stadia. Google has built a case against itself so strong that, whether it’s creators on YouTube, coders and scientists on Colab, or media and advertisers in Search, no community will ever truly trust it again.

Stadia died because no one trusts Google by Devin Coldewey originally published on TechCrunch

Why this Blizzard vet thinks the next killer web3 game will come from China

This year, around 3.2 billion people — or about 40% of the world’s population — will play games, with total spending nearing $200 billion, estimates industry researcher Newzoo. The purveyors of web3 want a slice of this gargantuan market. Criticisms of the first generation of crypto games, dominated by the play-to-earn model, have already been well documented, so the question for developers now is what decentralized games should look like.

Back in July, I wrote that veterans from the gaming industry overwhelmingly agree blockchain games should be fun to play and offer a sustainable financial model, both of which are missing in play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity. When it comes to genres, many of them believe massively multiplayer online (MMO) games have the chance to onboard the masses into web3. The genre, which has given rise to epic titles with flourishing virtual economies like World of Warcraft and EVE Online, could benefit from having in-game assets as blockchain-based tokens to enable true user ownership, they say.

And one country, in particular, has the potential to drive this transition.

“China has the best MMO teams in the world,” argues Jerome Wu, who worked on World of Warcraft’s China publishing during his three years with The9 and seven years with Blizzard, followed by stints at nWay, Baidu Games, and 360 Games.

Like many of his industry peers, Wu jumped on the web3 bandwagon. Over the past year, he’s been working on a space-themed MMO title called Space Nation, which is aiming to be a AAA blockchain game with co-founders including veteran game director Tony Tang and film director Roland Emmerich, who’s known for high-budget catastrophe movies. The game has a total budget of $40 million.

The team is spread across multiple countries with core development taking place in China because “the country’s MMO developers are the most efficient and cost-effective in the world,” according to Wu.

While China might not produce the most original and impressive gameplay — which is perhaps why Tencent and NetEase recently sought out creative directors in the U.S. — the country’s game developers have overtaken their Western counterparts on other fronts.

But if China doesn’t have the most creative minds, would its web3 plays live up to user expectations? Blockchain games are still in their infant stage and have more urgent problems to solve, Wu contends. “What they need right now is a better economic system and a more solid technical infrastructure, which are exactly where China’s edge lies.”

“If NetEase decided to go into web3 gaming, it could be a threat to the rest of the industry,” Wu says, referring to the Chinese gaming titan behind the MMO Fantastic Westward Journey, one of the highest-grossing video games of all time.

But neither Tencent nor its rival NetEase has made visible forays into decentralized gaming. As a former Electronics Arts executive pointed out, big corporations tend to be more cautious about pursuing a new industry, especially one whose reputation has been tarnished by Ponzi-like play-to-earn games.

China’s strength in MMO is a latecomer’s advantage, Wu suggests. Homegrown developers began to emerge only around 2000; at the time, they had no chance of beating top games imported from foreign companies, such as MMO works Stone Age, Cross Gate, Legend of Mir, MU, and World of Warcraft. But foreign games needed help with localization and publishing, which gave Chinese firms an opportunity to carve out expertise and learn from these big titles.

The success of MMO, Wu says, hinges largely on a well-designed economic system and hands-on, meticulous community management. “Through working on product operation and publishing for foreign games, Chinese studios gained deep insight into economic and social design, user behavior, and monetization. They quickly turned around and used that knowledge in their own game development, which is why most of their early-day hits were MMO.”

“You will see that Chinese people are always at the forefront of devising new business models and then improving them,” he adds. It’s perhaps no surprise that China also pioneered the free-to-play monetization model.

Having a solid infrastructure is also key to a genre of games that could see hundreds of thousands of players online at once. China’s game operators were trained to prevent crashes from day one. “The internet in China in the early days was so complicated and wonky that we had no choice but to keep buttressing our IT and network stability,” recalled Wu. “That wasn’t something that Western studios had to worry about, so they were more focused on the grand plans than trying to prepare for a network crash.”

Why this Blizzard vet thinks the next killer web3 game will come from China by Rita Liao originally published on TechCrunch

Google pulls the plug on Stadia

Two and a half years after unveiling Stadia on stage at GDC, the game streaming service is officially done. Subscribers will have access to the games library through January 18 of next year, after which point, it will shut down for good. Google adds in a blog post that it expects to have all refunds for subscribers issued by around that time, as well.

Google had not acknowledged previous struggles with the service. In a tweet dated late July, the company noted simply, “Stadia is not shutting down. Rest assured we’re always working on bringing more great games to the platform and Stadia Pro.” Google, meanwhile, had taken an aggressive strategy of offering months-long trials in an attempt to build an audience.

“[W] while Stadia’s approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service,” Stadia VP and GM Phil Harrison notes in the post.

The company is framing a kind of silver lining in the infrastructure it built to bring low-latency game streaming to life.

Developing…

Google pulls the plug on Stadia by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch

Netflix launches game handles for users of its iOS and Android mobile games

Netflix announced today it’s introducing a new feature to its games service that will allow its members to create game handles when they’re playing its exclusive titles. TechCrunch had previously reported the feature was in development and had been quietly tested on select titles, including The Breach, Bowling Ballers, Mahjong Solitaire and Heads Up. Now, the option is rolling out more broadly to members across both iOS and Android devices, the company says.

The game handles allow Netflix subscribers to create a unique username that can be used across Netflix’s games, including multiplayer titles like Rival Pirates, where the handles could help identify players, or in other games which include leaderboards like Dominoes Café and Lucky Luna, for example.

Netflix also notes game handles will help players to discover other gamers, make friends and play with each other.

Image Credits: Netflix

These social features were also spotted in development recently, as references in the mobile app’s code suggested the company was working on ways users could invite one another to play games, show when they’re online with a status, and more. At the time, however, Netflix didn’t comment on the developments, saying only that it was “exploring different features to enrich the Netflix mobile games experience.”

To use the new game handles feature, Netflix users will first need to download the mobile games onto their device and then sign in with their Netflix credentials. On iOS, the games Rival Pirates and Lucky Luna will allow you to select your in-game handle upon launch. On Android, the experience is easier as you can simply navigate to the Games tab within the Netflix app and tap on the banner that says “Create your Netflix game handle.”

By using game handles, Netflix members can play games and find friends without having to reveal their personal information, like their Netflix account name or real name. But it also sets the stage for more robust gaming experiences in the future, where game handles could be essential to gameplay or could allow for other ways of interacting with fellow gamers.

Netflix suggests that there’s still more in store on this front, today saying that “this feature is only the beginning in building a tailored game experience for our members around the world,” in its announcement.

Netflix launches game handles for users of its iOS and Android mobile games by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch

India searches premises, freezes bank accounts in ongoing Free Fire investigation

India’s financial crime fighting agency searched the premises of Coda Payments India, distributor of Sea’s Free Fire, as part of an investigation.

The Enforcement Directorate said in a tweet Tuesday that it searched three premises of Coda Payments India as part of an “ongoing investigation” into the distributor and Free Fire, a title that New Delhi banned earlier this year, and froze bank accounts with balance of $8.4 million.

The Southeast Asian giant Sea-owned battle royale game had over 40 million of its 75 million globally monthly active users in India in January, according to analytics firm App Annie, data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch. Sea, which counts Tencent among its largest backers, was also quietly testing its social commerce Shopee in India. In March, Sea said it was shutting down its India operations.

Even as India has never said it is particularly taking action against developers from any certain country, the vast majority of the apps it has banned in the past two years had origins in China. Chinese giant Tencent, which is a major investor in Shopee, is one of the few Chinese connections Free Fire carries.

The government agency has performed over half a dozen probes into tech firms this year, including those in Chinese smartphone vendors Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi and seized more than $1 billion of capital that it said firms had evaded in fraudulent tax computations.

The Enforcement Directorate also freezing assets worth over $8 million from WazirX earlier this year, citing suspected violation of foreign exchange rule, and $46 million from the local entity of Vauld for facilitating “crime-derived” proceeds from predatory lending firms. Last month, it alleged that crypto exchange CoinSwitch violated forex laws.

India searches premises, freezes bank accounts in ongoing Free Fire investigation by Manish Singh originally published on TechCrunch

Tatsumeeko strikes partnership with Immutable X to enhance its gameplay

Tatsumeeko, a role-playing game on Ethereum and Solana created by the team behind Discord chatbot Tatsu.GG, announced today it has struck a partnership with Immutable X (IMX). The partnership’s goal is to enhance Tatsumeeko’s gameplay experience by focusing on trackable ownership and transfer of in-game assets.

Immutable X is a layer-2 Ethereum scaling solution that powers Web3 games. It will facilitate Tatsumeeko’s virtual land sale, called Aethereal Parcels, on October 20. The game’s CEO and creative director David Lim, said the partnership will result in a more secure and streamlined player trading experience with options to hide or display Tatsumeeko’s crypto layers and use credit cards for digital asset purchases.

It will also help differentiate Tatsumeeko from other GameFi projects by focusing on experience instead of enabling play-to-earn mechanisms. Lim said that MMORPG players often purchase in-game assets on “real money trading” websites, where they are vulnerable to scams. In turn, this negatively impacts user experience.

“With IMX as our technical partner for on-chain infrastructure and support, we can make this process transparent and secure by bringing it in-house to provide our players with true digital asset ownership,” Lim added. “This enables trustless transactions and transfers of valuable digital items amongst players for low fees while at the same time contributing back to the game’s ecosystem.”

Tatsumeeko’s role-playing game takes place in a world called Ielia, where players can fight against monsters, build communities and meet other gamers. It is also meant to be an introduction to crypto and NFTs, with NFT projects that integrate directly into Tatsumeeko through its Discord. Last November, the game launched Meekolony Pass, a series of 10,000 genesis NFTs on Solana that give holders benefits, rewards and airdrops for their items in Tatsumeeko.

In a statement, Immutable X co-founder Robbie said “Tatsumeeko is focused on engaging with gamers and active community members where they already are. Tatsumeeko is using blockchain technology creatively to streamline their gameplay and players experience. I’m looking forward to partnering with Tatsumeeko as Immutable X brings the next billion players to Web3.”

Tatsu.gg, the Tatsumeeko team’sfirst project, now has over 62 million users and 1.4 million unique communities in Discord. Tatsumeeko announced in July that it has raised $7.5 million co-led by DeFiance Capital, Delphi Ventures and BITKRAFT Ventures.

Tatsumeeko strikes partnership with Immutable X to enhance its gameplay by Catherine Shu originally published on TechCrunch

HBO Max releases ‘The Last of Us’ trailer to bring more gamers to the streaming service

HBO’s “The Last of Us” is the latest TV series adapted from a video game that aims to bring more gamers to the streaming service. Today, the first full trailer of “The Last of Us” was released, giving fans of the best-selling franchise a look at the new show, set to premiere on HBO and HBO Max in 2023.

The show is based on the 2013 action-adventure game, which sold 17 million copies across PlayStation 3 and PS4 users in 2018.

“The Last of Us” is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the year 2033, 20 years after a fungus outbreak. The main character, Joel, and other characters in the game must escape fungus zombies known as “Clickers.”

The HBO original series will star Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Anna Torv as Tess, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, and Nico Parker as Sarah.

While HBO Max isn’t getting into the video game business like its streaming rival Netflix, which just announced an internal games studio based in Finland, HBO Max is adapting a popular game franchise that is likely to draw in many fans.

Plus, with streaming series like “Halo,” “Arcane,” “Witcher,” and others that have become hits, its safe to say that video-game adaptations will be a key to boosting subscriber growth.

HBO Max releases ‘The Last of Us’ trailer to bring more gamers to the streaming service by Lauren Forristal originally published on TechCrunch

Walmart arrives on Roblox for the first time with two new virtual worlds to engage young shoppers

Walmart announced today that it is stepping into the metaverse with two new experiences on Roblox: “Walmart Land” and “Universe of Play.” The virtual worlds are aimed at younger Walmart customers and let Roblox players collect new virtual merchandise, play games featuring toys and characters, earn toys from a blimp, attend live concerts, win fashion competitions and more.

This marks the retail store’s first time trying virtual worlds as it continues experimenting with new ways to reach the next generation of shoppers, Generation Alpha and Gen Z.

Walmart has tried other virtual tech before, such as its new AI-powered virtual try-on technology.

William White, chief marketing officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement, “This is another step of reaching our customers in unexpected ways and in the places where they’re spending their time. We are excited to be one of the first major retailers to do this.”

Other retailers on Roblox include Nike with “Nikeland,” American Eagle Outfitters, and Ralph Lauren. However, major retailer Walmart appears to be making the biggest effort with Roblox.

“I think that Walmart showing up in this way is just another example of how we’re thinking about what’s next, how we’re reimagining unique, innovative ways to engage with our customers,” White added.

Starting with Walmart Land, Roblox players will enter a colorful amusement park with a Walmart-themed Ferris wheel, slides, beaches, and more. The island is shaped like the Walmart logo with a circle-shaped center and six branches with different themes and activities.

There’s also a monorail that takes players on a tour of the virtual world, giving them a bird’s eye view of everything. The four other sections/branches are blank, as of now, but have signs that say “Coming Soon!” It is unknown when these other experiences will launch or what they will be. The company was not immediately available to comment to TechCrunch.

At the central hub, players can visit the Hub Store to redeem tokens for “verch” or virtual merchandise, such as apparel, accessories, and electronics like Skullcandy headphones and a selfie ring light. Players get a Walmart bucket hat when they first arrive.

The central hub is also where a blimp will drop down prizes. A timer for the next drop is at the top of the screen.

“House of Style” is a section within Walmart Land where players can go to test out their fashion skills. Players can try activities like the “Manicure Challenge,” where they can match nail polish colors, “Strike a Pose,” where players must copy the pose of a mannequin, as well as a photo booth which allows players to try on outfits and take photos of their avatar. There’s also a cosmetic obstacle course and a roller-skating rink.

Image Credits: Walmart

At “Electric Island,” players can compete in the “Dance Off” challenge, attend live concerts with popular performers at ‘Electric Fest,” and even play Netflix Trivia which is hosted by “Stranger Things” actor Noah Schnapp, who plays Will in the show.

“Electric Fest” will begin in October, Walmart wrote in its announcement, and will feature artists Madison Beer, Kane Brown, and YUNGBLUD. Madison Beer is a famous singer and YouTube star that will surely draw in fans to Roblox.

Spotify Island on Roblox recently introduced a young hip-hop artist, Doechii, as their first artist to be on Planet Hip-Hop, Spotify’s new Roblox experience.

Walmart’s “Electric Island” has similar features when compared to Spotify Island.

Players in Walmart Land can make beats in the “DJ Booth Remix” game and jump on a keyboard that plays different notes depending on which key they jump on. When testing out the game for ourselves, we found the piano sounds mildly irritating after a while.

This is similar to the trampoline within Spotify Island, where players can interact with different sounds. Players can be their own DJ within Spotify’s Planet Hip-Hop as well.

Image Credits: Walmart

Walmart’s Universe of Play is for much younger players. It features the popular kids’ TV series “PAW Patrol” and toys like L.O.L Surprise!, Magic Mixies, “Jurassic World” dino eggs, and Razor scooters. Universe of Play will also have a blimp, just like the one in Walmart Land.

Challenges and activities in this world include hunting for missing dinosaur eggs, helping the PAW Patrol team find Mayor Goodway’s pet chicken, Chickaletta, hosting your L.O.L Surprise! fashion show and creating a Magic Mixie. Players can also ride on a track in the sky with a Razor scooter.

The new Walmart experiences are live on Roblox.com. It can be played on any device, such as PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon devices, Xbox, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.

Roblox has over 52 million daily users and is designed for players 9 years and older. The gaming platform recently introduced age guidelines for older players, 13 years old and up.

Walmart arrives on Roblox for the first time with two new virtual worlds to engage young shoppers by Lauren Forristal originally published on TechCrunch

Netflix establishes an internal games studio in Helsinki, led by former Zynga GM

Netflix’s push into the mobile gaming market continues with today’s announcement the streamer is establishing an internal games studio based in Helsinki, Finland, led by the co-founder and General Manager of the Zygna Helsinki game development studio, Marko Lastikka. The studio will be the fourth for Netflix, joining others including Next Games, Night School Studio, and Boss Fight Entertainment, each designed to develop games catering to different tastes, the company said.

The streamer says it chose to locate its newest studio in Helsinki because it’s already home to some of the best game talent in the world. Notably, the location will also serve as the first studio Netflix will be building from scratch.

To date, the company has made deals and acquisitions to gain its way into the mobile gaming market.

Earlier this year, it acquired Finland-based Next Games, founded by a former Rovio exec, and the publisher behind “Stranger Things” and “Walking Dead” games, for $72 million. It also this year bought the Allen, Texas-based studio, Boss Fight Entertainment, as well.

Meanwhile, Glendale, California-based Night School Studio — the first games studio to join Netflix just released its first title for the streaming service, Oxenfree, at the company’s Tudum fan event over the weekend. The game is Netflix’s version of the original 2016 title but now comes with no ads or in-app purchases and includes localization support.

The new Helsinki games studio is being led by director Marko Lastikka, who had previously worked at Zynga since January 2017, helping to develop Farmville 3. Prior to Zynga, the exec also worked as a GM and Executive Producer at Electronic Arts, developing the SimCity BuildIt mobile games for iOS and Android. Before that, Lastikka spent over eight years at Digital Chocolate.

Netflix, in an announcement, said it’s still early days for its mobile gaming efforts and new games can take years to build — a suggestion that its long-term vision for mobile gaming goes far beyond the more casual gaming releases it has, so far, made available to subscribers. Since launching its mobile games service in November 2021, the streamer has added dozens of titles to its lineup, all offering the value proposition of being an ad-free experience without in-app purchases. Netflix has said it aims to have more than 50 titles in the lineup by year-end.

So far, however, the company hasn’t seen outsized demand for its games. Mobile app data provider Apptopia recently found that Netflix games were only averaging 1.7 million daily users and its total catalog had seen just 23.3 million downloads as of August, despite Netflix’s overall subscriber base then having 221 million members.

But Netflix’s vision for gaming stretches beyond the sort of one-off deals with studios it’s made to license games for its catalog, as today’s announcement indicates. Plus, the company has been spotted developing new features which would allow users to do more with its games. For instance, they can now establish unique game handles in select titles, including The Breach, Bowling Ballers, Mahjong Solitaire, and its version of Heads Up! It’s also working on other social gaming features, like leaderboards and ways to see when others are online or invite them to play.

The company hasn’t provided more details about its plans for its new Helsinki studio, like the headcount planned for the location or the number or type of projects it will develop in the months to come, but said it will share more further down the road.

 

 

 

Netflix establishes an internal games studio in Helsinki, led by former Zynga GM by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch

Netflix’s edition of Night School’s ‘Oxenfree’ is now available to play on iOS and Android

Netflix is adding Oxenfree, the popular supernatural mystery thriller game created by Night School Studio, to its gaming roster. Oxenfree: Netflix Edition is now available for Netflix subscribers to download on iOS and Android devices, the company announced at its Tudum global fan event on Saturday. The launch of the game comes a year after Netflix acquired Night School Studio.

Oxenfree was originally launched in 2016 and was Night School’s debut title. The Netflix edition of the game includes no ads or in-app purchases, and also adds localization support.

The game sees players take on the role of Alex, a rebellious teenager who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on Edwards Island, which is an abandoned military island. The night then takes a turn when the group of friends unintentionally open a ghostly rift spawned from the island’s cryptic past. Throughout the game, players choose every aspect of Alex’s story while exploring the island through dialogue choices.

“Oxenfree is such a special game to so many people and launching on Netflix is a really exciting opportunity for us to introduce Alex’s story to even more people – maybe even someone who never thought they’d love playing a game,” said Sean Krankel, co-founder and studio director at Night School Studio, in a statement. “As a Netflix games studio, we have the best support to bring Oxenfree: Netflix Edition to a global audience. Our community has requested subtitles in additional languages for a long time and this release of Oxenfree: Netflix Edition truly delivers the best narrative experience for players worldwide in their local language. ”

Oxenfree concept art

Image Credits: Netflix

At launch, in-game subtitles are available in over 30 languages, including Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Spanish (Latam), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

Although Netflix has released a handful of games on its streaming service over the past couple of months, the addition of Oxenfree: Netflix Edition marks its first in-house launch. The release could also be a way for Netflix to attract more people to its gaming service, which is likely a significant goal for the company, especially given that a recent report revealed that less than 1% of Netflix subscribers are interested in Netflix Games.

Oxenfree: Netflix Edition is available to download on mobile devices at netflix.com/oxenfree. When playing games on Netflix, users on an iOS or Android mobile phone will see a dedicated games row where they can select any game to download. Subscribers on an Android or iOS tablet will see a dedicated games row or be able to select games from the categories drop-down menu to download and play.

Netflix plans to have more than 50 games on its platform by the end of the year. The company launched its gaming service in November 2021 and has been adding new games to its catalog every month. The titles are currently free to play and don’t include any in-app purchases.

Netflix’s edition of Night School’s ‘Oxenfree’ is now available to play on iOS and Android by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch