Games as a service

The gaming industry is shifting their focus from product to services. All current consoles in the market includes some kind of services. The Playstation Network (PSN) from Sony and XboxLive from Microsoft are the best examples of this phenomenon.

Even the portable gaming devices are adding services. The Nintendo DSi and Sony PSP Go are focused on digital distribution with on-line stores with games, applications and video.

One example of Innovations in gaming is Little Big Planet (Exclusive for PS3). In this game you are a co-creator using a service that let users create, share and play new levels. The game offer a customized experience where you can buy stickers to decorate your levels and suits to personalize your character.

John Pleasants the COO of EA in a interview on venturebeat says “If you believe all games will eventually be services — as I do — then the idea of game teams that make a game, ship it, and then do something else goes away”. In fact we can see this in the Burn Out Paradise that is a platform to deliver more ways of gaming. In fact they are constantly upgrading the service adding more vehicles and stages.

The EA executive gives a hint of new business models for gaming “They (games) will now ship and day one begins when the customer gives feedback to the live service. The way you distribute will be different. The way you charge will be different. There will be more permutations in pricing. Merchandising will be much more important. Co-marketing will be much more important”.

A innovative approach on the way that games are delivered is OnLive. It is a platform that do the heavy processing on the server side bringing the Cloud Computing concept to the gaming industry . The OnLive micro console is just a terminal to connect the TV and game pads. It’s not a complex piece of hardware like the PS3 and Xbox360.

Figure 1 – The OnLive gaming service will be delivered using a micro console

As we can see the gaming industry is shifting their focus from product to services, no only in the way the software is delivered but also in how you play and purchase the game.

Egon Lüftenegger

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