30 Apr Morris Esformes Discusses The Open Market for Video Game Subscriptions
In today’s digital age, industries across every sector are forced to adapt to a digital consumer climate. So far we’ve seen Netflix dominate the world of film and television streaming services, ultimately encouraging competitors such as Hulu, HBO GO and Amazon; we’ve seen Pandora and Spotify lead the music streaming industry, allowing consumers to switch between tracks freely and create their own playlists; now, it’s time for a leader to emerge within the video game streaming market–and currently, the war is on.
According to Axios, dominant tech companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon, are all reportedly working on what’s been deemed the “Netflix of video games,” with the hopes of surging ahead and leading the video game subscription market. However, the idea is a lot easier said than done.
Netflix was able to lead the market by exploiting a loophole in content licensing within the film and television industry, that same content licensing loophole doesn’t exist within the gaming industry, making it difficult for these tech companies to create a platform and onboard game developers. Only time will tell which company will ultimately lead the market.
Stadia Emerges at Game Developers Conference in San Francisco
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, a video game aficionado who claims he plays FIFA “quite a bit,” announced Stadia at the Game Developers Conference in early March. Pichai, during his keynote speech, described the platform as a “platform for everyone” noting early ambitions of the service, such as streaming to all types of devices. The service is slated to launch in 2019 in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe.
Google intends to amplify the Stadia gaming service by utilizing YouTube and its many creators that have already created game clips on the service. Prior to its March announcement, Google tested its gaming service by allowing Google Chrome users to stream “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” in their browser in January. While “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” is the only game to have been tested on the service, creators boast its ability to instantaneously stream any YouTube game title without the need to download or install beforehand.
Pichai announced that at the launch, Stadia will be available for streaming across laptops, desktops, TVs, tablets and phones and has implemented a seamless game streaming service that allows users to switch between devices at any time. While the idea of Stadia is on the market prior to other tech giants game streaming services, the official launch date is not set, leaving the service’s capabilities and market lead up in the air to consumers.
The Status of Other Tech Giants in the Space
Apple is seeking to create its own gaming subscription service where consumers will have access to a number of bundled titles via a monthly subscription fee; a move that stems from the tech company’s need to expand its services while tech and hardware sales plateau. While it’s unclear as to what a game streaming service would look like for Apple, it is clear that the tech provider is shifting its model from one-time app purchases to function as a “publisher” of the gaming market, a position that could give the company a leg up on competition and create loyalty among game developers within the market.
Microsoft announced its “Project xCloud” game streaming service that doesn’t utilize any type of handheld device. Instead, users can use a smart phone or tablet with virtual buttons. Xbox leader Phil Spencer says the push for Project xCloud comes from a disconnect between consumers and consoles, PCs and televisions, and notes that the goal is to reach consumers wherever they are, which in 2019 is a smart phone or tablet. Microsoft has yet to set an official launch date for Project xCloud, but does intend on launching sometime in 2019.
News surfaced about an Amazon game streaming surface when two anonymous sources emerged to tell “The Information” exclusively that they were developing a cloud gaming service. A quick search on the company’s job site solidified the idea of a new development as the company listed positions specific to “Cloud Games Engineer” and “Cross Platform Game Engineer.” While the tech giant hasn’t discussed or confirmed any type of service, it does make sense for the company with its clout and know-how to build out a game streaming service.
The Current Climate
As of right now the game streaming service race is tight with four leading tech companies looking to become the industry leader and come out ahead of the competition. While each company has plans to create a Netflix-like game streaming service, only Microsoft, Google and Apple have announced the idea to the public, of course, without the accompanying official launch date. Tech giant Amazon has yet to announce or confirm the development of a game streaming service, however its job listings allude to the fact that the tech giant may be working behind the scenes to come out on top of the pack.
It’s unclear as to when any of these game streaming services will be available, as every company has been elusive about a launch date, but only time will tell whether Stadia, Project xCloud or an Apple or Amazon owned streaming service will become the next “Netflix for games.”