Hatch Entertainment, a spin-off from the game maker behind the Angry Birds franchise, is testing streaming access to mobile games the way Netflix does for movies or Spotify for music.
The Finnish company that grew out of Rovio believes the gaming industry is ready for flat-fee monthly offers to give players a greater choice of titles and replace the irritating free-at-first, pay-later model that has dominated the market.
“This is a new way to play mobile games, and at the moment we don’t see any direct competition,” Hatch chief executive Juhani Honkala told Reuters.
More than 100 game developers and publishers are ready to give the new business model a try, including SEGA, Square Enix and Bandai Namco, Honkala said, though the beta version has only 10,000 user downloads so far in the Google Play store.
Hatch’s platform, which runs on Android phones and is being tested in 18 European countries, has also racked up support from US wireless chip giant Qualcomm and China’s Huawei, the world’s third-largest smartphone maker.
“We have very strong industry backing,” Honkala said.
Rovio is stepping up its investment in Hatch, looking to secure a new revenue stream after a dramatic profit warning sent its share price tumbling by 50 percent last month.
Rovio owns 80 percent of Hatch, which operates as an independent subsidiary.
Smartphone-based games are currently dominated by a free-to-play model that makes money through in-app purchases that help players to progress.
The model rewards games that have become mass-market success stories but makes life challenging for lower-ranked titles and smaller publishers who have trouble getting discovered as players stick to games they know and have invested in.
Hatch now offers 100 games on its platform and it has signed up about 200 more, including SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog games, Crazy Taxi and Virtua Tennis. Honkala said the service will pay 70 percent of its revenues to the publishers of its games.
The model would also allow more room for educational or strategy games that have longer narratives, he said, adding that running the service from the cloud rather than locally on the phone should also improve the experience for multiplayer games.
The company does not have a target schedule for formal launch but Honkala said it could happen this year. Reuters
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