Netflix and Telltale Games have entered into a deal that will bring simple game experiences to the streaming service. Netflix has confirmed that the pilot program is likely to begin with Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode that will offer an adapted version of the Telltale Games original.
Like the Telltale Games series, Minecraft: Story Mode on Netflix will be a five-part episodic adventure and might be available to stream later this year.
Separately, we’ve learned of a new Telltale Games project based on Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things – though no release window or additional details were provided.
According to sources speaking confidentially to TechRadar, the Netflix version of Minecraft: Story Mode will be delivered via video files and will accept commands via any remote equipped with directional and select buttons. This simplified command is a perfect pairing for Telltale’s slate of games, as they often only require the player to select from dialogue options or move the cursor to a specific location on the screen. (Though, from the sounds of it, many of the battle sequences will be cut from the final product.)
While Netflix has yet to announce any deal of this caliber with a game development studio, Telltale has mentioned wanting to work with the streaming service in the past on several occasions, and a potential deal between the companies would extend the work that Netflix has done with shows like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, which let younger viewers choose how the story unfolds.
How will it work?
When asked what a final product might look like, sources pointed to the Amazon Fire TV platform – an ecosystem in which you can find a number of Telltale Games series like Minecraft: Story Mode, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – and which only requires that viewers have a remote in hand.
If everything goes according to plan, these game experiences won’t require any additional hardware other than the remote you use to control your TV.
The sources say that playable demos of the purported games have been in existence for at least the last year, and that an announcement of the partnership “could happen any day.”
That said, for games to work over a streaming service our sources say they would have to be significantly modified – they’d need to place characters on a set path to move forward, for example.
Netflix might not be alone
The deal could potentially raise eyebrows with Telltale’s other content collaborators, notably HBO, a longtime partner of the developer for its Game of Thrones game. However, sources have confirmed that HBO was among the companies approached when the idea was conceived and turned Telltale down, saying they’d rather wait and see how the technology developed.
Back in December we reported on the possibility of Netflix offering branching path content, and had even pointed to Telltale’s The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones as perfect examples of limited interaction experiences that could fit with Netflix’s technology.
It appears as though that’s exactly what’s happening.
As for the yet-unannounced Telltale Stranger Things game, sources say the game should have been ready for launch in the autumn of 2017, but was pushed back to a later date. It’s likely that both the partnership and new game could be announced simultaneously.
We’ve reached out to Netflix for a statement on the partnership, and will update this story when we hear back from them.
Update #1: In a statement sent to TechRadar, Netflix says that the details we were provided on the Stranger Things game from our source weren’t accurate and has agreed to provide additional details on the story:
While Minecraft: Story Mode will indeed be the first game from Telltale to launch on Netflix in an adapted form, it now appears as though Stranger Things will not be an interactive experience but rather a new Telltale series.
Update #2: There appears to be a job listing on Netflix’s website for a Manager of Interactive Licensing who will, among other things, “use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand and delight our member community (ex: Stranger Things: The Game)”. This role will likely be pivotal in bringing more interactive experiences to the platform in the future, and potentially lead to more Netflix-branded game crossovers.
Matt Swider has contributed to this report.
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