Can Netflix take back the ‘Netflix gaming’ crown from Xbox Game Pass?

Netflix wants you to try where Google Stadia failed.

Just a few weeks ago, Google publicly backed away from cloud gaming with a surprise announcement that it was shutting down Stadia. Throwing in the towel, it looks like Microsoft, which has made cloud gaming a feature but not its primary focus on Xbox, has the best chance of popular adoption, as it’s probably the closest thing to “Netflix for video games” to date. Amazon’s Luna doesn’t seem to be a huge hit, and most people don’t seem to be familiar with Nvidia’s GeForce Now.

This week, the future of game streaming got even more interesting: Netflix, the company that has proven movie streaming is the future, announced that it is “seriously exploring” its own cloud gaming service. Her work has been interrupted.

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Netflix has already proven that it can run the content-streaming business for movies and TV shows on a large scale for hundreds of millions of customers. But moving from the suite of mobile games it currently offers to a full cloud gaming service will be “a long, difficult and risky road,” according to Lewis Ward, IDC’s director of research for games, esports and virtual reality. / AR.

The risk might be worth it because cloud gaming would instantly unlock Netflix’s gaming strategy in a big way: the company could theoretically offer games on every screen you watched Netflix. At this point, you may have heard something like this a few times, but Netflix doesn’t seem to care about a stand-alone service. Based on comments from the company’s head of games, Mike Verdo, it looks like it will lean more toward the already successful Xbox version of cloud gaming. For us, delivering games to your TV or PC [is] He said in the TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday. “We are not asking you to sign up as a console alternative. So it is a completely different business model.”

This is different from Stadia, a standalone service based on a cracked business model that offers full-price, subscription-only games that only give you access to select titles. Rebecca Ann Heineman, whose studio Olde Sküül was working on Stadia before the shutdown was announced, believes this model contributed to the platform’s failure. “Everyone I know, including myself, believes that for one monthly price, you can play all the games you want for free,” she said in an email. “That wasn’t the case with Stadia, and because reality didn’t meet perceived expectations, it really hurt Stadia.” If Netflix keeps cloud gaming as part of its “all you can eat” pricing, the company can do it right, she said.

But right now, it seems a lot easier to go wrong with cloud gaming than it is.

Netflix will need to invest in cloud gaming infrastructure

One of the obstacles that Netflix will have to overcome is building a strong technical infrastructure for cloud gaming. Joost van Druenen, an assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said in an interview that game streaming is a “different animal” than streaming movies and TV shows. The Netflix backend is largely based on Amazon Web Services, which isn’t ideal for streaming games, especially for multiplayer games, according to Van Drunen. Huge studios like Roblox and league of legends Riot Games has built its own technology backbone for developers to reduce latency and create better experiences, and Netflix will need to make a similar commitment to its cloud gaming infrastructure.

Another issue is that US broadband infrastructure is still pretty dire for cloud gaming, with many suffering from slow download speeds or frustrating monthly data caps. Netflix is ​​well aware of this; It runs the fast.com speed check tool which is useful to turn to when your internet unexpectedly slows down and you suddenly can’t watch a movie. And Microsoft, which also has an interest in better broadband access for its cloud gaming offerings, maintains a dashboard showing just how bad digital inequality is across the country. For example, in one county in Washington state, 97 percent of the county does not use Internet at broadband speeds, according to Microsoft. (The FCC defines broadband speeds as 25Mbps download speed.) Unreliable internet makes cloud-streamed games slow and tricky, and it’s hard to make a convincing case for cloud gaming if it’s hard to tell whether Your internet could handle a game in the first place.

The Apple App Store will also be a problem

The internet infrastructure won’t be the only thorn on the Netflix side, Apple’s App Store will be a huge problem. Apple has complex rules for game streaming apps, preventing companies from offering a library of games that you can browse and play with the click of a button in a single app. Given how much Apple makes from games, I doubt the company will change these rules anytime soon, so Netflix will have to figure out ways to get around them. Netflix can offer a web app as progressive as the competitors. Or maybe you’re negotiating some kind of deal with Apple so that its main mobile app can offer cloud gaming.

Perhaps most importantly, Netflix will have to overcome the notoriously difficult problem of making good video games, which is where Nvidia and Microsoft really excel. Microsoft has been making its own games for over 20 years and has taken over an empire of major studios making titles under the Xbox banner. (There’s a little Activision Blizzard acquisition in the works, too.) Microsoft and Nvidia have both been successful in strengthening their cloud game libraries because of the relationships they’ve built with game makers over the decades.

Image showing screenshots from Xbox Game Studios games.
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On the other hand, Google couldn’t figure it out (or didn’t want to spend the time on it), as Stadia’s in-house studios shut down a little more than a year after the service was launched. Amazon has seen some success with titles like new world And the missing coffin But there are quite a few failures, too. Nor new world Nor missing coffin Available on Luna.

It seems that Netflix is ​​committed to developing the game properly. It has acquired game developers, set up an in-house studio in Helsinki, and just announced a studio in California that it formerly heads. Note and watch Executive Producer Shako Sony. And Verdu seems ready to give its studios room to grow. “With indoor games, we want to build institutional efficiency. We want teams to go through multiple cycles together and get fundamentally good at working together and delivering great products,” he said. “Sometimes, the only way to do that is to give them the space within the institution.”

The company could have an advantage in taking advantage of its perks, according to Ward. “If this potential cloud-streamed gaming service takes off, I think eventually it will be because watching massive streaming video is accompanied by a free and premium game that is only available on Netflix,” he said.

Netflix won’t have to rely entirely on its own games. Several mobile titles are currently available from other developers, and Verdu said Tuesday that “Netflix’s outdoor gaming pillar is just as important as in-house gaming.” This indicates that it plans to keep licensing games from third-party partners, just as Netflix doesn’t only have its own movies and shows to watch.

But we don’t know how many games may be mobile games or only cloud titles.

“If there is any competitor to discover this, they are.”

Netflix declined to comment further on Verdu’s comments on stage, so there are still plenty of open questions about how this potential cloud gaming service will shake up. “If the hope is that Netflix Games will become a significant revenue center in, say, five years, there is a huge gap between what Netflix offers today and what needs to be in place to make that happen,” Ward said. He pointed to the fact that Netflix still has a small game catalog and that we don’t yet know if Netflix can attract and retain players. And given that Netflix is ​​doing everything they can to find new revenue streams as quickly as possible, we’ll have to wait and see how much leeway their game studios really have.

But Netflix has built its now huge line of movies and TV shows from scratch, so you can say it’s proven to be working out the ins and outs of creating its own content. If Netflix had the time and patience to find their cloud gaming audience, Brandon Sheffield, creative director of Necrosoft Games, said in an email that “they could build something really big.”

van Dreunen also noted that Netflix has switched from mailing DVDs to an almost entirely digital company, and they’ve done so well that competitors like Disney and HBO have followed suit. Although it may not be immediately clear how Netflix will bring games into its cloud infrastructure, “if there’s ever a competitor to figure out, it’s them,” van Druenen said.

disclosure: the edge He recently produced a series with Netflix.

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