/Photo: Gilles Lambert/

How the “Netflix -model” could save the future of mobile games

As Free-To-Play is here to stay, and even popping it’s head on other than mobile markets, we need to be realistic about the future of mobile games. As users are more and more reluctant to pay the full price for a game, and free of charge is now something considered self-evident; we need to discuss about the affects it is having on bringing out quality content.

Users feel like there’s so much content to choose from, and so many bad seeds among great ones, that it’s too much of a risk to pay a full price for a game that might let them down. Users are being more and more picky on what’s worth their pennies, and for various reasons they have a right to do so.

In the meantime developers are pushed to the edge. Putting an price tag on a project you put your time, effort and heart in to might define the future of your success. And putting an price tag that would actually be reasonable will in most cases mean there won’t be any success at all. So developers are forced to take a risk and either underestimate the value of their product, or use a model that is not pleasant for either the user or the developer; free-to-play.

Users are now getting something for free, but to get most out of the experience they’re once again being forced to make the decision weather to pay or not. On worst cases; to make the game even a tiny bit enjoyable you must pay something every here and there. In the meantime developers are still on the edge, facing the difficulty of how to make a game that is both free and profitable. Sounds like an crazy equation.

“Netflix for games”

So what if we could have an service that would enable an enjoyable user-experience, and give the developers the possibility to focus on making great games without playing around the free / paid -features?

Introducing; Gamefix (How deeply imaginative and fantastic name we have there) where users would pay for an monthly membership and be able to play the games they please, and the developers would be paid accordingly. It could also raise the standard of games, since instead of competing with pricing, the real value would be in the content.

Netflix has completely changed the way we watch TV, in good and bad, and with over 60 million users it is now putting out on-demand content aswell as creating originals. There has been debate about the negative effects it is having on the industry it’s stumbling on, but progress is happening and the service is revolving all the time. And since the model can’t just be turned in to an “Netflix for games” (Or Gamefix as we just established), changes will have to be made anyway for the subscription-model to work in the mobile world.

This idea isn’t new at all, infact it goes surprisingly far with attempts like OnLive and Sony’s Playstation Now. Yet no one has quite succeeded, and I don’t believe it’s because the model is unworkable. It’s because the average gamer needs to be informed, and the better model must be presented as something taking away the biggest frustrations everyone has had with “Free-to-play -games”. I think when it comes to mobile games, it wouldn’t actually have to be a streaming -service at all. (What, didn’t you just say this was the Netflix- model?) How about we just create an platform, users would buy monthly subscriptions, and download the games they please? Would that make any sense?

As Free-to-play is becoming a standard in the market, but at the same time a curse word to many of us, better solutions will eventually come. We will most likely never go back to the old way, and luckily there’s other industries fighting with similar issues as well.

So let’s just shamelessly steal their ideas.

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