Javier Polo, CEO of European start-up PlayGiga (pictured, below) discussed the benefits operators can gain from investing in cloud-based gaming with Mobile World Live.
Why should operators invest in cloud gaming?
Javier Polo (JP): There are a number of reasons. It is a customer acquisition tool, representing the first big opportunity in some time for an operator to offer a completely new category of digital services to their subscribers, expanding their entertainment portfolio and providing a key differentiator for their product if they are early to adopt.
It’s also an upselling tool: the possibility to enjoy high-end games on a TV or PC represents a good reason for customers on current ADSL/cable connections to upgrade to premium connections.
Cloud gaming can also be a retention tool, promoting customer loyalty and reducing churn when bundled in top-tier tariffs together with connectivity and pay-TV subscriptions.
Lastly it increases ARPU and adds more value through the set-top box (STB), as the launch of a games streaming service is often associated with a new generation of STBs being deployed by the operator.
With the advent of 5G networks and the huge amounts of money operators are investing in it, cloud gaming is a perfect use case. While B2B applications for the new technology abound, that is not the case for B2C services. Cloud gaming may well be the first killer application for 5G networks, either in connected homes or on mobile.
With 5G, operators have for the first time a real opportunity to become a significant gaming channel. They already have captive family audiences, wider than the traditional console or PC gaming target: they have the infrastructure and also the experience in selling services at a huge scale.
How does your service compare to Google’s Stadia?
JP: It’s important to understand that Stadia seems to be very much targeted at hardcore gamers who already own consoles and gaming PCs. Whereas PlayGiga targets the family/mass-market segment, through a B2B2C strategy in partnership with operators and media companies.
Stadia has announced it will support 4K and 60fps, which bears a high cost and is not something the mass market looks for. It also seems to require a 15Mb/s to 25Mb/s internet connection, which will exclude millions of regular gamers on slower connections.
By announcing its own studio and its own developer SDK, it feels like Stadia is a new gaming platform and not just a streaming service. So, I see this more as a challenge to companies that offer virtual PCs in the cloud. It could also be a challenge to big platform holders like Microsoft and Sony, especially if Google starts competing with them to secure big first-party IP.
It’s great to see cloud gaming getting so much attention, but nothing has really changed for us. Our focus remains on the mass-market of families through telecom and media operators which can offer to their expansive subscriber bases a compelling new high-engagement digital service.
You recently announced a partnership with Ooredoo Qatar: what other operator deals are in the pipeline?
JP: We currently have open conversations with more than 60 companies throughout the world and see this number growing every month.
What can be expected from PlayGiga in 2019?
JP: We aim to continue our investment in technology. What this means is that we need to cooperate with multiple R&D laboratories throughout Europe and the US, while at the same time enriching our catalogue and expanding our business in new markets.
The new business model enabled by streaming will contribute to the transformation of the games market towards a better model for end-users, publishers and developers.