Cloud-Based Gaming Could Kick Off Huge Developer Race

As we progress into a new decade, two things are clear: The biggest names in tech are really interested in cloud-based gaming, and they’re clearly willing to spend lots of money for any sort of market advantage.

Earlier this month, Google purchased Typhoon Studios, the developer of the buzzed-about game “Journey to the Savage Planet” (seen above). Google is betting quite a bit on its Stadia platform, which streams high-profile games to players without a console; although the technology behind this streaming has attracted a lot of attention, many gamers are skeptical that Google can deliver experiences that can compete with traditional console-makers such as Nintendo, Microsoft (Xbox), and Sony (PlayStation).

Purchasing Typhoon Studios will boost Stadia’s original game offerings, but it remains to be seen whether Google will purchase other studios and developers in coming months. 

Meanwhile, Facebook has acquired PlayGiga, a Spanish cloud-gaming firm with a big presence in Europe and parts of South America. In theory, that would help set the stage for Facebook’s own entry into the streaming-games market, although Facebook itself is declining further comment on its long-term plans. 

Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t a complete stranger to gaming. Oculus, its virtual reality (VR) subsidiary, offers some VR games as part of its software portfolio. Those who’ve followed Facebook’s business for years will recall the social network’s fraught relationship with Zynga, the once-powerful creator of Facebook-dependent games such as “FarmVille.” Facebook wants to diversify its revenue streams beyond advertising, and gaming is certainly one way to do that.

Combine that with Microsoft and Sony broadcasting their intentions to enter the streaming-game space, not to mention Apple pushing its new Arcade platform, and it’s not out of the question that we could see a “gold rush” for content and games, similar to the hunger for content currently gripping the streaming-video market. Just as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney are collectively spending billions to bulk out their movie and television offerings, the tech giants could easily dump tons of money on original gaming content, all in an effort to differentiate their cloud platforms in a crowded market.

For game developers of all sizes, that could make the next few years particularly profitable, provided they create games that these big companies want to snatch up. However, there are a lot of big unknowns here, including things like revenue splits, subscriptions, exclusivity agreements, and so on. Presumably, anything relating to profits will be handled on a company-by-company basis. If you’re interested in building games, life might be about to get way more interesting—but also way more complicated.