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Opinion: Netflix for mobile games is the future, and would kill off the platform’s obsession with freemium

Google Play Android Yeti Android Instant

If VentureBeat‘s latest report is true, Google is reportedly working on a subscription service for Android gamers. That means we could end up consuming mobile games like we do Netflix.

And it makes an awful lot of sense. Rather than developers battling it out to get you to cough up a dollar on some worthless IAP, they’ll be battling for downloads or number of plays.

You know what that means, don’t you? That developers will first and foremost want to make a good game, rather than a profitable one.

Is Google working on a Netflix for games subscription service?

It’ll work just like on our favourite streaming platform. Netflix funds a ton of TV shows and movies every year, but only the best get second seasons. That means producers and directors are focusing on quality, more than anything else.

Netflix Android

That would completely reverse the trend we’ve seen on mobile ever since freemium became the model of choice. Before that, when games were largely premium, it was definitely a case of quality wins.

But there are challenges ahead. For a start, Google has the enormous challenge of making it easier and more appealing than Google Play.

That might sound easy, but it’s far from it. Right now you can pretty much scan through the store, pick a game, and download it for free.

A potential way to make that easier is to remove downloads entirely, and have you stream games. That in itself isn’t quite so desirable, as WiFi and data isn’t quite as reliable as it needs to be yet.

Would you pay for a subscription service?

Then there’s the question of whether anyone would pay for a subscription to access a bunch of games, when the games themselves are actually free right now.

The benefit is obvious: if you pay for games up front, then, as we said earlier, the developer can focus on quality. But we won’t see that until the service is proven to work.


So all Google could really offer right away is something similar to Amazon Underground, which didn’t take off. We’d get access to all premium games and maybe the free ones wouldn’t have IAPs.

As a result, gamers would likely question what they’re really getting for their money. Google will have to launch it with some seriously killer exclusive apps that show off what the service is capable of.

Netflix for games could be the end for freemium

That’s the real challenge. Netflix has demonstrated that streaming services can completely thrive if done right. Google has to be bold and go all in if this is to work. If it does, mobile gaming will absolutely change for the better, as developers will focus on quality, rather than monetisation. That’s best for everyone.

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