Here’s a story no one anticipated: Netflix are making video-games.

Okay, okay, so technically Netflix didn’t actually make it. Stranger Things: The Game has been crafted by BonusXP. Still, this is the first time that a Netflix property has been officially licensed to be turned into a video-game. Could this be a sign of things to come? Hopefully.

Stranger Things: The Game is a free to play game available on both the App Store and Google Play. It’s also free from any annoying microtransactions, so you can download and play the whole thing for free. In terms of style, it’s definitely got some serious retro vibes. You play as various Stranger Things characters each of whom has their own unique abilities. Visually, it’s not dissimilar from gaming classics like PokémonSuper Mario RPG and early Legend Of Zelda games. Very cool.

The game isn’t technically 8 bit, but it might as well be for the way it looks!

With a ‘classic’ mode which promises to be fiendishly difficult to beat, this Stranger Things game looks like it’ll take fans back to 1984 in more ways than one. Still, for modern gamers who might struggle, there’s also a ‘normal’ difficulty mode that looks more forgiving.

Anyway, as you can see from this trailer, the whole exercise is incredibly charming! It’ll definitely be the perfect thing to get you in the mood for the return of Stranger Things on 27 October!

Who is behind Stranger Things: The Game?

If you’ve never heard of BonusXP before, we could hardly blame you. The indie developer has developed several titles including CavemaniaThe IncorruptiblesHero Academy 2, and more. However, Stranger Things: The Game is definitely their most high-profile release so far.

Interestingly, all of their games are free-to-play affairs, which does beg the question of how BonusXP are paying their 31 staff members. Obviously this particular game is a huge marketing exercise for Netflix, so they’d have paid a huge sum, but what about the rest?

Still, it’s obvious that BonusXP are extremely competent about their craft. Stranger Things: The Game is buttery smooth and visually dynamic! It’s definitely a polished product, a far cry from the tie-in games of old!

In an interview with PocketGamer.biz, BonusXP CEO Dave Pottinger said of the game:

“It’s primarily for the fans. We scoured season one for all the in-jokes we could find, and also foreshadow the basic plot points and reveals of season two. I think fans will be pleased at everything that’s crammed in here.”

So, there might even be a few hints as to what is still to come!

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Stranger Things Game Walkthrough:

If you need a few hints to get you started, we’ve found this great play-through guide from the guys at IGV on YouTube. Just follow their steps and you’ll be smashing the Demagorgon for yourself in no time at all:

What is Netflix’s strategy with this game?

While Stranger Things: The Game might just be a one-off it could also mark the start of a brand new future for Netflix.

Here’s the thing, Netflix has been a huge success. It’s been such a success that it has dozens of emulators. HBO Now, CBS All-Access, Showtime, Amazon, Hulu, and even YouTube have create a slice of Netflix success for themselves. Which is potentially bad news for consumers. Rather than paying for one service with dozens of people’s content, each of those content creators now want customers to pay them personally for access to their backlog of content.

Netflix has seen this coming for a long time, hence why they’ve put such an investment into original series, like Stranger Things. Why rely on other people’s content when you can make your own? The trouble is that as it makes more original content and relies less on having a huge bank of content from other providers, Netflix starts to look more and more like any other TV channel.

Why should it matter if Netflix is doing original content if all its competitors are doing that too? Netflix originals used to be (and to some degree still are) a bit of an ‘event’. There’d be loads of buzz around them because Netflix were a new player in making TV. Now it’s becoming old hat, and Netflix looks like any other TV channel, so what’s left to create the buzz?

It used to be that Netflix could give it’s users something that they couldn’t get elsewhere: a dozens of their favourite films and shows all in one place. However, as that USP slowly gets eroded by other people taking their content off the service, Netflix must ask: what can we give our users that they can’t get elsewhere?

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Diversification could be the answer. They studio has already acquired a comic book division with its acquisition of Millarworld. They also raised eyebrows after shutting down a pop-up bar based on Stranger Things; could they be creating their own one?

In this context, video-games is the next logical evolution for Netflix. What can they offer that their competitors can’t? Competently-crafted, quality tie-in games that link back to their favourite TV series, of course. Netflix’s TV audience might be shrinking due to competitors finally stepping up to answer the challenge, but it doesn’t matter. While Disney, HBO, CBS, and everyone else was scrambling to gear up their streaming options, Netflix was onto the next venture.

The whole thing is genius because of the way Netflix has managed it.

They won a tonne of customers (and cash) with their original USP. They used that money to create some flashy, attention-grabbing IP of their own: Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black etc. Because of their stars, big budgets, and general flare, these TV series have attracted tonnes of loyal fans. As the money starts to dry up, Netflix can start to rely on fan loyalty to back other revenue streams: comic books, video-games, live events etc.

It’s not entirely dissimilar from Nintendo’s success in video-gaming. Sure, they might not have the best graphic chips or 4K streaming tech, but their IPs are winners. Super Mario will always draw people back, while Sony and Microsoft have struggled to create lasting fan-favourite characters. But the success of Nintendo’s IPs have kept them afloat in turbulent business times.

Netflix will be hoping that theirs can too for the challenges that follow!