Google Stadia is just another example of the games industry move to a ‘Netflix’ distribution model, in that respect it’s hardly a revolution. But that is the funny thing about revolutions, in tech they often don’t appear as some huge change for those that are ‘insiders’ or ‘early adopters’.
Take F2P, which now from the perspective of 2019 we can see what a massive revolution that change the industry, but back in 2009 there had been micro transactions in Asia since the early 2000’s and downloadable mobile games for nearly as long.
So Stadia is just another step in the evolution of game platforms and the underlying business models that we can trace back on Onlive and Gaikai, we can also see the same subscription model in Microsofts Gamepass. All of these try and do the same thing, to give players a huge library of games, freely available and instant. Games the player can play at their leisure, consuming when and where ever they like.
This is clearly a hugely appealing proposition, demonstrated by Spotify and Netflix in the other major media markets. It would seem extremely unlikely that games will not eventually follow it’s stable mates down the same route and become an ‘all you can eat’ buffet of interactive entertainment.
This has some very interesting effects to how games are built and marketed. If there is just a simple subscription then it is likely games will generate revenue based on the amount of gameplay time they generate. Games will therefore focus on retention and the length of gameplay rather than some of the monetisation mechanics in F2P which actually reduce gameplay time based on spend.
If anything analytics will become even more important and the mechanisms developers will deploy to keep players playing their game may be just as ‘unsavory’ as some of the monetisation mechanics used today. The concept of ‘just one more go’ will be paramount in driving revenue in games and the game types that favor long game sessions will do well.
This is where the business model may push game design in a direction and away from the quick fun fillers that we see in the casual space. Making casual work in this new model will be a whole new challenge.
So Viva the Revolution, interesting times ahead….