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It was only a little over seven months ago that Amazon first announced its latest service – a cloud-gaming platform named Amazon Luna, set to rival a long list of other, blossoming gaming as a service platforms such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce Now and, of course, the more established Google Stadia project, which was first launched in the fall of 2019.
Both services, while unique, are aimed toward a common goal: enabling a much freer, more flexible, cross-platform gaming subscription service which circumvents the need for high spec gaming PCs or power-hungry consoles. Much like music or TV streaming services, they also aim to eliminate the need for physical content libraries; much like we have, for the most part, done away with those shelves of CDs and DVDs over the past ten years, so too will we overcome the need for game storage – or so the theory goes.
At this stage, games streaming services remain incredibly new, and many of us have yet to commit to a single service. With the true benefit yet to be demonstrated, tying ourselves in to yet more monthly subscriptions remains low on many To Do lists – and that is where the real issue comes in for the providers.
Just a few short months into development, for instance, Google Stadia announced that it was severing ties with its own, in-house development studio – and, instead, would only offer subscribers games sourced from third-party developers. Does this automatically set Stadia back in the race for prominence, or can they continue to compete with Luna, who remains committed to in-house development? Read more below.
Versatility Widens Competition…
It is important to note that, while these subscription-based cloud gaming services are in direct competition with each other, that is only half the story. By emancipating their leading titles from, say, the confines of the next-gen console or gaming PC, they enter into a brand new landscape with its own high-stakes competition.
Any title these companies offer or create themselves will be up against long-standing market leaders in the realm of casual PC and mobile gaming. Some, like Riot Games and GGPoker, have already mastered the tricky subject of developing games that seamlessly bridge the gap between the PC and mobile.
What this means is that acquiring pre-existing games from Triple-A console developers may well be insufficient for services attempting to rival those developers already thriving in the conjoined realms of the PC browser and the mobile application. For many years now, gamers have had access to an incredibly strong offering, already geared-up to enable a drop-in, drop-out style of gameplay that does not demand the very latest hardware in order to run smoothly. In order to stand out, developers may well need to put forth something entirely new – and that is, of course, why entities like Amazon and Luna seemed so interested in creating their own in-house development studios in the first place.
…But Amazon Is Not Yet the Rival it Wants to be
It is no secret that Amazon has had a rocky relationship with game development – even before their Luna project was released. In the most recent show of their struggles, it became apparent that Amazon has decided to give up on what was to be something of a Magnum Opus: an MMORPG title inspired by Lord of the rings.
Obviously, this is just one example, but it is part of a more significant character arc for Amazon – a desire to find dominance in the gaming world (independent of third-party titles they have acquired on their streaming platform), but, thus far, an inability to make that dream a reality. While their Amazon+ service may well be thriving – thanks, of course, to its in-house productions – Amazon still has a long way to go before its in-house development studio poses a significant rival to Stadia.
Of course, the mere fact that Amazon remains set on the notion of game development gives it an edge over Google, who seem to have moved on from the daydream entirely. Only time will tell, however, if it can pay off.