The Netflix model of on-demand streamed content is gathering pace across the internet because users find this format easier and more affordable. Now, the Netflix model is going to lend itself to the mobile gaming space with a new product called Hatch.
“Hatch is a new kind of gaming streaming service, which plans to change the way people play games,” Vesa Jutila, co-founder, VP content & Commercial Partnerships, Hatch Entertainment told indianexpress.com in an exclusive interview. “We believe there’s a huge paradigm shift going to happen when gaming will be available on-demand, so it will be way more superior to experience great games, with no downloads, no worries about storage, etc.” At present in beta, Hatch is available on Google’s Android platform in 18 European countries.
“We started working on Hatch some three-years ago as an internal venture at Rovio, the Finland-based game developer behind the smash hit Angry Birds game. When we realised Hatch will be a huge thing, we made the decision to spin-off from Rovio to form an independent company. The decision was made in the summer of 2016,” Jutila said. Even though Hatch is technically a Rovio subsidiary, Jutila says it is important for the company to be fully independent and neutral as it seeks to attract the best developers and games to be part of the service.
Hatch works in a similar fashion as any streaming service does and users stream the content rather than download them to your phone. This means the experience will be independent of the capabilities of the phone, as long as you have a strong and stable internet connection.
One of the interesting features of Hatch is the ability to add social elements to mobile gaming. For instance, while playing the game you can invite up to four friends to join the session. Plus, you can play games with them in real-time with voice chat.
Interestingly, Hatch also lets you record 45-second gameplay clips which can be shared with friends on Instagram or any other social platform. In the future, Hatch will have a feature similar to Amazon’s Twitch, which essentially lets users live broadcast their gameplay.
Hatch is still very much in the development phase and the company has no plans to bring the service to other parts of the world, including India.“It makes perfect sense to start the service in Europe as it is our home base. We started Hatch in Finland and later expanded to a number of Western European countries. For now, we would like to keep our focus on Europe to optimise the service,” says Jutila.
The company, however, could launch the service as part of the beta programme in India by the end of the year. The Finland-based company recently set up a test data center in Chennai, which it says will be used for cross internal testing like measuring the technical performance and network quality.
“India is a very exciting opportunity. I really feel that the stars have aligned perfectly in the Indian market for something like Hatch. The mobile networks are improving, 4G is growing, and the mobile data consumption has exploded through the roof. Streaming games make total sense for the Indian consumers who typically don’t have access to the high-end devices with very little storage, for example. Since the games will be streamed on the cloud, you don’t need to worry about downloading it on the device. This model, I think is perfect for a market like India,” added Jutila.
Jutila explained that Hatch will replicate the freemium model of Spotify. In Europe, Hatch can be accessed for free, although it comes with ads. You can stream the game for free as the developer wanted to make it; the advertisement happens outside the game and not inside the game. Hatch wants to stick to this model whenever it launches the service in India and will gradually introduce a paid subscription option. The paid subscription promises to offer an ad-free experience and features exclusive content. The price of the paid subscription model is yet to be decided for any market, including Europe.
In the past, OnLive and Gaikai did try to offer something similar to what Hatch promises to offer but failed miserably. “All the existing and earlier game streaming services have been based on media streaming. We’re not using media streaming, we do the real rendering. Our solution is totally unique in the marketplace,” Jutila added. “For the user perspective, it works because you don’t need that much bandwidth and latency is way less than other solutions out there. From the business model perspective, it is a smart solution. Since we render the graphics on the device, we don’t need to have expensive GPU/hardware on the server side. We only need to get access to cheap CPU. In case of to media-based solutions, the operational cost is high due to the deployment of dedicated hardware into the servers. Perhaps why you see the price points of existing gaming services are high. “
Jutila stressed that the key to Hatch will be superior quality content. More than 110 developers and publishers from the around the world are already on board, including Sega, Bandai Namco, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Rovio Entertainment. In the recent months, Hatch has also signed deals with a lot of Indie developers and niche publishers in an aim to bring those interesting games to the platform that often get neglected due to limited release.”The strategy is to keep the content growing on a continuous basis so that every time you come to the service there will be new games to try,” Jutila said.