E3 2018: Will streaming to mobile become the new battleground?13 Jun 2018 4
Premium mobile games have always struggled in the face of an endless tide of cheap, often throw-away Free-to-Play releases. Pocket Tactics was founded on the desire to seek out quality premium experiences on mobile and celebrate them however we can, but as time moves on that’s proving harder and harder by the day.
Big publishers have always known the potential of mobile thanks to how embedded phones and tablets are in everyday life, but so far, we’re just as likely to get a cheap, cynical tie-in as a genuinely well-done port or adaptation. Two bits of news have emerged from E3 2018 that suggests the big gaming companies may be trying to approach the mobile userbase from a different angle.
Firstly, EA announced that they’re working on a streaming service – it doesn’t have a name and there weren’t any concrete details, but there was a tech demo available at EA Play this year. During the conference itself a demo video showed a segment where a gamer was playing on what looks like an Android phone hooked up to MOGA-like controller.
EA’s plans for mobile remain unproven this point, especially in the face of the also-announced C&C Rivals which is more par the course. We’re still willing to give that game the benefit of the doubt, but it’s a real shame to see the franchise reduced to this. Ultimately, its approach to the F2P model will determine its worth.
In contrast, Microsoft planted their own flag loud and clear. During their own press conference, they announced they’re also working on a streaming service:
“Our Cloud engineers are building a game-streaming network to unlock console-quality gaming on any device. Not only that, we're dedicated to perfecting your experience everywhere you want to play - on your Xbox, your PC, or your phone.”
No more details beyond that were revealed; it was more of a statement of intent or declaration as opposed to a manifesto. It’s possible a new battleground is emerging on mobile, and it’s one that side-steps the need to deal with the app stores entirely. That’s not to say any of this is new – PlayStation Now, while not on mobile, has been around for a number of years. There are utility apps that let you stream from your PC to your tablet… not even Valve’s new Steam Link app is doing any particularly novel, but Microsoft and EA’s announcements suggest that the mainstream is waking up to the potential of streaming to mobile.
We’ve stated before that we’re genuinely quite excited by the prospect of full-blooded console & PC games coming to mobile intact. Fortnite, PUBG and ARK suggest that Free-to-Play is still going to be king as far as porting/bespoke apps goes, but perhaps streaming to mobile will allow us to get that premium experience we crave.
Of course, if this really IS the future, I’m not sure what we’re going to do as a games outlet. Start covering Halo, I guess?