How will Netflix game streaming change the way games are made?

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Written by Asaf Eldad, Director of Business Development and Gaming Partnerships, Incredibuild

In recent years, subscription services have taken over the media consumption space, providing us with an “all-you-can-eat buffet” of TV, movies and music at a fixed monthly cost. Gaming, the world’s largest and most lucrative entertainment industry, is a recent but successful newcomer to this trend. With over 18 million subscribers with Microsoft’s Xbox Gold Pass alone, there’s no denying that consumers are hungry for subscription games.

Netflix’s recent announcement to add video games to their subscription package means that in addition to paying a package, subscribers will be able to stream their games rather than having to install them on their device first. That is, just like with video content, all you have to do is go to the Netflix app, hit the play button and… play. Netflix is ​​not the first to offer such a service, but it is surely important enough to bring this form of game consumption closer to casual gamers. What games, formats and business model will they apply? There are a lot of guesses in the market. In this article, I’ll focus on one of them, where Netflix will develop its own games but also open it up to external mobile game studios, much like Spotify records its own content and releases other content.

With a wide range of game sizes and qualities, it’s unclear how the one-price economy will work and whether the larger studios will switch to the subscription model. Apple Arcade, a similar concept, is still evolving from this point of view. However, beyond the commercial elements, the technological change it imposes will challenge many game studios.

In Hollywood or in the music industry, once a song or movie production is over, it is (apart from a few rare cases) final. A video game, like any software, requires maintenance as well as level extensions long after its release. The console’s unique first-climax DVD box moved to digital availability, easily updating the original version over the internet with new content and tweaks to improve upon the original version, months, sometimes years after release. original of the game.

Game studios typically release 1-2 updates each month. Their release schedule is much more lenient compared to website maintenance, which has likely been updated a few times while you were browsing today. Etsy, for example, rolls out 50 updates every day, while Facebook reports 1,000 updates a day.

Now take a game and put it on a streaming platform, it’s not much different from a website, always having to be up to date, at its best, and competing with other games that aren’t. just one click away. Herein lies one of the technological challenges that game developers will face with game streaming. Increasing update frequencies for video games from weeks to hours requires a paradigm shift in the way the studio produces games. You can imagine the change a carpentry shop has to go through from producing one item per day to transform into a high-speed assembly line that ships dozens of pieces of furniture every day.

This massive change will require rethinking delivery methods and evolving the studios’ underlying DevOps infrastructure to withstand the heavier workloads. Essentially, every step of their assembly line will need to be optimized and scalable using technologies such as Incredibuild, continuous integration systems and, to a large extent, the transition to cloud-based infrastructure in order to accommodate. easily at rapid scales.

The change will affect every aspect of their game production practice, from how the game code is built and updated, through testing, to final release to the streaming service.

From a game design standpoint, studios will have to adapt a bit. Since streaming doesn’t require any per-game setup or recording, users will likely skip games the way they do on TV. It will require game designs to grab your attention at first glance and avoid the complexities. On the bright side, studios may no longer have to worry about ads, freemium, and in-app purchases which will surely lighten up the game to some extent and free up their time to focus on the gameplay.

Overall, game studios looking to join Netflix will need to rebuild their game production methodologies from the ground up, invest in automation-based infrastructure and, to a good extent, their culture, in order to keep up with this evolution. . new assembly line speed called game streaming.

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