Can a video game “Netflix” work?

It’s only $8.99 a month and gives you some of the best shows, movies, and documentaries. With nearly 30 million customers, you’re bound to know at least one person who uses Netflix, but as the new generation of consoles focuses more and more on digitally downloaded games, is now the perfect time for a videogame “Netflix” to arise?

Currently the only popular videogame rental service, Gamefly, requires you to play with the physical disc, while also limiting the amount of games you can possess at one time. It’s not a particularly bad deal, but it is a far cry from the convenience and practicality of a digital focused service like Netflix or Hulu Plus.

Onlive has attempted the streaming approach with relatively disappointing results. Their pricing plan was ideal at $14.99 a month, and their selection of games was solid as well, but the latency was far too significant for the average gamer to handle.

Onlive got the foundation of a game-streaming service right, but it isn't good enough for wide-spread popularity right now.
Onlive got the foundation of a game-streaming service right, but it isn’t good enough for wide-spread popularity right now.

The $14.99 a month price point seems very reasonable and should be where the company who inevitably will attempt a gaming subscription service should aim.

But right now it seems a streaming game service is out of the question — unless one of the big three game companies’ server capacity is truly up to one of the biggest tests you could imagine.

But you don’t necessarily need to stream the games. You just need to be able to play them within a time frame quicker than the week it takes for gamefly to deliver. The next logical conclusion would be to simply download each game one at a time and store them on your hard drive until your subscription to the service ends.

One of the greatest concerns for a user would be their internet service struggling to keep up with the large downloads. With most videogames being as large as 40 or even 50 GB, a high quality internet connection would be a must to give users a streamlined experience. This puts a major hole in the idea of a videogame “Netflix,” but it doesn’t entirely deter the idea.

For movies that stream through Netflix, or any streaming service for that matter, you receive content that is instantly processed and enjoyed. Videogames are certainly different. With their inclusion of a single player story that can last for multiple days, and a multiplayer gamemode that lasts for as long as the player enjoys it, the amount of content received through a single game download is much greater than that of a movie. Waiting an hour or two for a game to download becomes a lot more reasonable when you look at the content you receive.

If a service like this were to form, it would likely start with either Microsoft or Sony. The Playstation 4 is experimenting with Playstation Now, which streams games to the console and shows similarities to the Netflix model. The Xbox One continues to grow their ‘Azure’ servers system, and seems more prepared in regards to their server capacity. With Microsoft’s focus on digital gaming and the introduction of EA Access, it may be best for the videgame “Netflix” to begin on Xbox One.

EA Access gives Xbox One owners a small collection of the top EA games as well as other discounts for $5 a month.
EA Access gives Xbox One owners a small collection of the top EA games as well as other discounts for $5 a month.

So yes, a videogame “Netflix” can work, but it would need a different approach and a lot of commitment on the part of what ever company is up to the task.

Most would say a streaming/on-demand gaming subscription service likely won’t fully develop into a feasible, easy-to-use product for some time, but with the love of Netflix so prominent and the greater focus on digitally downloaded games this generation (EA Access, Playstation Now, etc.), it shouldn’t be a surprise if it comes sooner than you might expect.

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