Exclusive: Netflix to bring Minecraft: Story Mode to service - but not traditional games

Update: Netflix has provided the following points of clarification on the story -

"1. We can confirm Minecraft: Story Mode is a licensed 5-episode interactive narrative series coming to our service this fall. It's an extension of our other interactive stories we have on our service like Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile.

2. The Stranger Things project is being published by Telltale at a later date, not on the Netflix service. It's part of our marketing and title promotion efforts.

3. We don’t have any plans to get into gaming. There’s a broad spectrum of entertainment available today. Games have become increasingly cinematic, but we view this as interactive narrative storytelling on our service."

Well, just like the show, Things just keep getting Stranger around here.

Original story follows below...

Netflix and Telltale Games have entered into a deal that will bring simple game experiences to the streaming service. Netflix has confirmed that a streamable version 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 would 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.

Our initial impression was that Netflix's version of Minecraft: Story Mode would be delivered via video files and will accept commands via any remote equipped with directional and select buttons. That appears to be inaccurate and it will instead play similarly to titles like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, which let younger viewers choose how the story unfolds.

Telltale has mentioned wanting to work with the streaming service in the past on several occasions, and it appears that request has finally come to fruition.

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. 

That said, it now sounds even simpler than that. Depending on how much is cut out from the experience it might not end up looking different than some of the choose-your-own-experience titles Netflix already has on its service. 

Sources say that playable demos of the experience have been in existence for at least the last year, and that an announcement of the partnership “could happen any day.”

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.

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.

New details...

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. (Full story here.)

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.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.