Netflix has officially launched Minecraft: Story Mode as an interactive experience, and the first three episodes are now up and running for subscribers. The final two episodes of Season 1 will come out later in December, while the bonus episodes from Season 2 that happen outside of the game's main storyline have yet to be confirmed for the video-streaming platform. The interactive adventure mostly unfolds as a series of video files with choices interspersed, rather than a proper game as the console, PC and Android versions were. The entire game is free for Netflix subscribers, with no extra fees associated with playing.
Background: This move was announced quite some time ago, but it likely took a while to iron out the details of reformatting a proper video game into a Netflix-friendly format. Given the reformat, it's now playable on just about any device that can stream Netflix, from the smartphone or computer you may be reading this on all the way to the humble Nintendo Wii. For those not familiar with the game, it's an original story taking place in Mojang and Microsoft's Minecraft universe. You play as Jesse, a builder who leads their friends on an adventure that starts with a building festival and contest and ends with a cosmic-scale monster threatening to eat the entire world. With your friends and your trusty pig Reuben by your side, you'll reunite the Order of the Stone, a group of heroes that fought evil long ago, to come against the monster and the sorcerer that's lost control of it. The bonus episodes see you visiting other worlds to help sort out their affairs, such as rooting out political meddling in a sky kingdom and working with Minecraft versions of famous YouTubers to investigate a murder and escape a booby-trapped mansion alive.
Impact: Minecraft: Story Mode is not the first interactive experience to hit Netflix by any means, but it is the first time that a video game has been ported over to the service and turned into a choose-your-own-adventure movie. It represents the beginning of the company's deal with the dying Telltale Games, which may grow to include its other games in the future since they all follow a similar format. If this goes well, Netflix could conceivably venture into the wider world of video games. Everything from long RPGs to explosive action games with deep storylines could be on offer, so long as they can be reformatted into the same form as this game; video files interspersed with choices and bits of menu-based gameplay. While that's a bit of a logical stretch, following the tragic tale of Quantic Dream's Detroit: Become Human or having the sprawling world of Final Fantasy XV presented to you as a kind of 3D action anime are both entirely feasible in this format, however unlikely they may be to happen. Suffice it to say that this game represents a sort of trial by fire for Netflix's interactive experiences, and its success or failure will almost certainly affect how Netflix chooses to approach the concept going forward.