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Samsung is launching an open beta today for the Samsung Game Launcher, which lets you play mobile games on Samsung devices using Samsung’s mobile cloud gaming service.
Jong Hyuk Woo, vice president and head of gaming services at Samsung Electronics, said in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat that the launcher helps get rid of friction when it comes to digital commerce with games. The new beta service of the Samsung mobile cloud gaming platform will be available in the U.S. and Canada, and it can be included as an update for an existing game launcher already used by as many as 150 million monthly active users on Samsung Galaxy devices, Woo said.
Right now, there are seven games available from partners including Playrix and Snow Print Studios. A wide variety of games will be eventually supported. Woo said the tech works across 4GLTE, 5G and WiFi.
Normally, you might see an ad for a game on a smartphone and then click on it. The ad can take you to a game download, which could take a minute or so to download if you have a good connection. Then it might ask you to register as the game starts loading.
But Woo said that about 90% of users who have this experience will probably quit sometime during the process and forget about playing the game. Even with free-to-play games. Other companies have called this playable ads, but Samsung has some advantages as a device maker.
Woo said the company looked at other cloud gaming companies from a business model standpoint, as well as server and technology configuration, and Samsung has learned a lot from others who have ventured into cloud gaming earlier.
With the cloud-based Samsung Game Launcher, you can skip the download. So long as you have a good connection on 5G, you can start playing the game immediately, no download required. It doesn’t need you to log into anything or register because, as the device maker, it knows who you are.
When someone clicks on an ad, it takes them into the Galaxy store and immediately starts playing the game stream for the player within a matter of seconds.
“There are cloud game services out there. But most of them are focused on PC console games. This makes sense because the problem that they’re looking to solve really is access. Not everyone has a $400 to buy a console or a $1,000 gaming PC,” Woo said. “This is a way to bring that content to the masses who don’t have that access. But on mobile, it’s a little different. Everyone has a gaming device in their pockets.”
Woo said that the team found other unique opportunities and pain points when they studied cloud gaming options for mobile native content. From the game publishers’ view, one of the biggest pain points is scaling games with paid user acquisition. With the focus on privacy over targeted ads, it’s hard to use paid user acquisition get users in the ways that used to happen, he said. The privacy restrictions are only going to get tougher over time, making advertising into an inefficient funnel for monetization.
Add to that the number of users who drop off when faced with a complex onboarding process, which requires opting in to permissions and downloading a gigabyte to 10 gigabytes of data. And the result is that lots of people just drop out of the process.
“It means that 90% of the people who have expressed interest in a game publisher’s content, via an ad, don’t actually ever get into the game. We believe that cloud streaming can do something for mobile game publishers by completely collapsing that user acquisition funnel, getting rid of the download and installing and the visit to the App Store. It can dramatically reduce that, that funnel and the inefficiencies within that model. And so game publishers are going to see a significant increase in the number of users who are coming into their games.”
As for the users, one of their biggest pain points is really around discoverability.
“We take for granted today that we can go to a Spotify or Netflix, click on a piece of content and within a matter of seconds, we can be watching it or listening to it. Then we make a decision whether we enjoy it or not, with very little time or resource investment,” Woo said.
Installing a game is a big investment of time, and then gamers may find that the game isn’t what they thought it was and they won’t like it. With cloud gaming, the discoverability is more seamless because you can play it as soon as you click on an ad, Woo said. And if you like it, you can share that game with a friend simply by sharing a link with them. And, within seconds, they could join you.
“That’s going to be something that’s game changing from the end users perspective,” Woo said. “The Samsung Game Launcher application will be preloaded on all Galaxy devices.”
With the launcher, you can control utility functions like having a “do not disturb” function on when you’re playing a game. Samsung has more than 150 million monthly active users who are actively using the game launcher already. And so Samsung wants to engage those users with content.
The advantage that Samsung has is that it has amassed the users on its own phones, it can preinstall its launcher and cloud gaming capability on its phones, and it already knows who the users are.
“When a user buys a Samsung device, it’s in their pocket, it will be preloaded with a Galaxy store, and they will be ready to stream right off the bat without requiring any account creation,” Woo said.
On top of that, Samsung isn’t pushing this as a subscription business.
“It’s almost like we’re virtualizing the app store in the cloud where we are servicing free-to-play content,” Woo said.
Woo said the company has worked on the tech and infrastructure for about two years now. It did a closed beta test in Western Canada earlier this year, and it has been in some form of beta testing for seven months now. And now it’s opening it up to all of Canada and the U.S. now. Woo said the company wants a lot of people to test it and give the company feedback to make the service better.
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