Last Updated: March 13, 2020 6:30AM
At last week’s Game Developers Conference, one thing was on everyone’s mind: streaming.
Microsoft pre-empted the conference by announcing plans for a new subscription-based game-streaming service. It compares this service, which would allow users to play their favorite games anywhere from any device, to Netflix.
Then, last week, Google revealed its soon-to-be-launched Stadia game-streaming service onstage at GDC, kicking off the event with a bang.
And just this week, Apple announced the launch of Apple Arcade, yet another subscription-based service that will give iOS users exclusive access to a suite of Apple-based games
Okay, game developers: we hear you loud and clear. We’re deep in the streaming waters—and all the Games giants are there with us.
The conversations we had at GDC last week only reinforced our belief that streaming is going to be a feature, not a bug, in the gaming space. While opinions may diverge on the place it will occupy in the gaming landscape in the long term, it’s clear that subscription-based services will have ramifications on the industry.
Here are a few things to expect as a result of this new trend.
1. We don’t yet know the requirements needed for successful streaming, but we know they’ll be big.
A huge number of unknowns regarding the technical requirements for successful streaming platforms remain. But we do know this: creating an ideal streamed gaming performance will be a challenge that requires a super high-quality, high-speed Internet connection.
As Ben Gilbert wrote in Business Insider on March 13, subscribers to video-streaming sites like Netflix are forgiving of occasional pauses or quality blips that result from buffering. But will game players be as forgiving if their game pauses right as they’re about to complete a crucial task or level up?
Before they launch in new places, game developers will need to ensure a top-notch connection and an uninterrupted experience every time—or they’ll frustrate players and risk losing them. Which brings us to our next point…
2. Expect different platform types to coexist…for a while.
At its start, game streaming may only exist in a small percentage of cities worldwide, which have strong connections and facilitate the seamless user experience companies need to offer. That means that for a while, multiple platform types (streaming subscriptions, consoles, etc.) will co-exist. When Netflix launched, streaming videos coexisted with DVDs for a long while. We expect the same thing will happen in the gaming space.
But over time, if the tech behemoths can figure out streaming successfully, we expect we’ll see a market-wide shift—and more competition.
3. Game developers will need to be hyper-mindful of differentiation
It’s a big question for game developers now, and its importance will only grow as the streaming landscape becomes more crowded. How are developers differentiating? How are they creating loyalty? How will content change to create loyalty? These questions will need to be front-of-mind for game developers as they enter this brave new world of streaming.
4. More, more, more
We’re seeing it already: the need for speed, and the need for more—more content, more features, more quickly. Our clients are already moving from a programmatic model to a continuous one, largely foregoing epic releases in favor of more regular content updates and enhancements. We’ll continue to see that continuous innovation in the age of streaming.
And in the immediate future, we’ll likely see more of everything: more games, more investments, more testing in more places, and more players able to interact with their favorite games around the world.
As Xbox leader Phil Spencer said in a June 2018 Business Insider interview, “Many of [the 2 billion people who play video games] don’t own a television; many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their computer device. It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are on, the devices that they have.”
It’s a trend we’ve noted across industries: the growing ability to activating emerging markets of previously unconnected people.
Like everyone else in the industry, we’re excited to engage more gamers with new titles around the world. And whether you’re creating a game for your new streaming service or for a console device, we’re the partner you need to make sure the game is just as fun in Brazil as it is in Bangkok.
Interested in learning more about how Lionbridge can help at any stage in the game development process? Reach out today.