German telco Deutsche Telekom has announced plans to launch a new cloud gaming service, Magenta Gaming, which will be integrated with its MagentaTV over-the-top service. The move follows closely behind Google’s own cloud gaming announcement, and demonstrates the increasing convergence of video streaming and gaming, partly enabled by cloud gaming.
Deutsche Telekom says MagentaGaming will allow users to play high end games on their PCs, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. At launch, the service will be available via an app, though the company says in the future it hopes to make MagentaGaming available via a web browser too. The service is entering a beta testing phase with over 100 games available on 24th August – a full rollout is expected in 2020.
Cloud gaming is emerging as an alternative to console or PC-based gaming. Traditionally, consumers have had to buy a dedicated games console, or a computer with sufficient processing power and graphics hardware, in order to play more technically complex or graphically taxing games. This also requires users to either own a physical copy of the game, and/or install the game on their device.
Cloud gaming on the other hand means that games are run on remote hardware, with the video and audio then streamed to the consumer’s device. This has a few advantages. It means users don’t need to own expensive consoles or gaming PCs capable of running high-end games, just a device capable of sending the users’ input (via mouse and keyboard or a controller) and receiving the audio and video stream. It also enables Netflix-style subscription services for video games, since consumers no longer need to download games to play them.
The move by Deutsche Telekom is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it highlights a potential new revenue stream for telcos, since it allows them to move into the gaming market without the need to build and market a console. A cloud gaming service can be easily bundled with other services, and if a telco owns an OTT platform the app can be included by default.
But it also highlights the convergence of gaming with video streaming. Games console manufacturers for quite a while now have been big players in the OTT space, either simply by hosting OTT apps or by running their own services, as PlayStation does with PlayStation Vue. Cloud gaming effectively enables the opposite, with those running OTT platforms waking up to the potential for a move into gaming.
And this convergence opens up possibilities for video services and gaming services to directly interact. Google’s Stadia for example will be integrated with YouTube in a couple of ways. Adverts for games on YouTube will be able to include a ‘play’ button, which will directly boot up that game via Stadia. And YouTube creators who live stream themselves playing games will be able to let their audiences jump into the game and play alongside them via a tool called ‘Crowd Play’. Deutsche Telekom hasn’t outlined exactly how the integration between MagentaGaming and MagentaTV will work, but there would certainly be potential for the gaming service to interact with gaming-based content on the OTT app.
There will likely be hurdles for Deutsche Telekom along the way though. One immediate issue is that MagentaGaming seems to have a pretty limited library of games at launch, suggesting they’re aiming mainly for the casual gaming market. The company hasn’t released the full list of games, but ‘Garfield Kart’ and ‘Pro Cycling Manager’ are among the small number of titles shown in the promotional images, it seems likely it’ll be thin on major releases.