Considering the protective fan culture surrounding Stranger Things, and viewers’ eternal vigilance for any detail that could tip off parts of the story to come, the Stranger Things mobile game had to be developed in total secrecy — a tall expectation of a video game.
The studio’s solution? Use family members as testers.
Stranger Things: The Game (screenshot above) is a free-to-play adaptation that launched earlier this month to get fans ready for Stranger Things’ season two premiere on Netflix on Friday. It was made by Allen, Tex.-based BonusXP in conjunction with Netflix and is available for iOS and Android devices.
BonusXP has 30 employees and Netflix insisted on secrecy, so Dave Pottinger, the studio’s president, figured hiring testers to QA the game was not an option, he told the Dallas Observer. They brought on spouses and other family members, swore them to secrecy, and said go for it.
The unorthodox testing corps helped assure BonusXP that the game it had — whose 16-bit throwback style tries to capture Stranger Things’ feeling of nostalgia for the 1980s — was understandable for a wide audience.
It also convinced BonusXP to add a more difficult mode called “1984 Hard” for more experienced gamers seeking a challenge.
The Dallas Observer has much more on the game’s creation and the inspirations that went into it. BonusXP got the job from Netflix thanks to a connection through Microsoft, where several of their developers were alumni of the Age of Empires franchise.
This past week, Stranger Things the mobile game added a port for Amazon Fire TV devices, which has gamepad support, and a new playable character, Max from season two. For more on Stranger Things’ second season, we have watchthroughs of the first two episodes.