"Come in a hurry, go in a hurry, I wish I could meet you." it's very appropriate to use this lyric to describe Google's self-developed game. Recently, Phill Harrison, Google's vice president and general manager of stadia, announced that he would close the game development department of stadia. It was only two years since he announced that he would set up a studio to develop 3A blockbusters for stadia and then disbanded.
15 years ago, there were about 200 million game players in the world, while today's number is about 2.7 billion. Video games have become the largest media form. The huge market makes the game industry look like an unfathomable gold mine, attracting manufacturers from all sides to make a lot of money. However, the reality is that the game industry is more frustrated.
Among these "grey noses", two giant figures stand out: Google with a market value of $1.30 trillion and Amazon with a market value of $1.70 trillion. The two Internet giants are like a pair of brothers in need, who have repeatedly encountered difficulties in the game industry.
Stacia's exclusive game in abdominal stillbirth
At the Google GDC conference in 2019, the stadia cloud game platform launched by Google started a wave of cloud games, which is also the first March of the Internet giant into the game industry in 21 years since its establishment.
With the help of the huge cloud computing system, stadia brings the "future" game experience that the existing game console and high-performance PC can't: without additional expensive game hardware, it only needs a game handle to play 3A blockbuster on TV, monitor and even mobile phone.
Jade Raymond, who talks and laughs with Xiufu Oshima
However, before the surprise, the players were shocked. The story goes back to the beginning of the article. Recently, Google announced that it would suspend the development work of the studio, shift the focus of stadia's work to the construction of cloud game platform and the cooperation with third-party manufacturers. Its director, jade Raymond, also officially announced his departure from Google.
Picture from: wired
It's not so much that Google is on the run this time, it's better to say that it's a strong man breaking his wrist and stopping losses in time. 3A game R & D needs not only funds and talents, but also rich production experience. It is almost impossible for a start-up team to produce a masterpiece that can attract players to switch to the platform within a few years.
Google's decision may be based on the experience of another game making technology giant.
"Amazon? Does it have / still play games? 」
When it comes to Amazon's game business, friends who don't pay much attention to this Internet giant will marvel at its wide business, while those who have heard a little about Amazon's games will be surprised that Amazon is still playing games.
From the perspective of time line, Amazon is earlier than Google. Aiming at the big cake of games, Amazon game studio (AGS) was set up in 2012, and many games have been launched.
When AGS was just established, it only produced leisure mobile games, and in terms of the quality of the game, it was just a small fight. However, Amazon said that the world is entering the "golden age of games". Amazon, which is rich in money, will either quit or do a big job if it wants to.
In April 2014, Amazon acquired double helix, the developer of Silent Hill: the way home, to accumulate development strength for the ideal of AGS self-developed 3A game. In 2017, Amazon launched its ambitious new game, breakaway, which is Amazon's first big budget game and the beginning of disaster.
Picture from gamehyped
Breakaway is a 4v4 MoBa online game. Players will be divided into two teams. They can choose the roles of soldiers, mages and other different professions to compete for the "holy ball" in the competition.
In terms of playing method and concept, "breakaway" is like the combination of "League of heroes" and "League of Rockets". However, after the two hot games are stitched together, the core experience brought to the players is very bad. Two years after its release, Amazon officially cancelled the project.
Picture from: business insider
To discuss the way of Amazon's game R & D, we have to mention Mike frazzini, the person in charge of the game project. Before taking on this important task, he was in charge of the fire mobile phone and tablet computer that have been erected on the tombstone. He is an Amazon librarian who has nothing to do with games.
This is also one of Amazon's corporate philosophy. Capable people are capable wherever they go. The company will provide data and funds as support.
However, data can provide guidance for the production of the game, but can not dominate the whole game. The research and development of a game depends largely on the control of experienced producers, which is exactly what Amazon lacks, which makes Amazon suffer a lot.
Wired interviewed the former developers of Amazon, and mentioned the difficulties Amazon encountered in game development, many of which can be attributed to the wrong judgment of frazzini.
For example, in the choice of game development engine, Amazon did not choose the mature unity or unreal 4 engine, but chose to develop its own independent game engine lumberyard.
It is true that self-developed game engine will bring many benefits to game R & D work, such as higher degree of customization, faster operation efficiency, bypassing technical barriers and so on.
But at the same time, we can't ignore that these benefits are based on a mature and available engine. While developing large independent games, developing game engines at the same time is the same as maintaining aircraft engines in the process of flight.
A former Amazon developer described the experience of using lumberyard to develop games as follows: "I need to build a gorgeous house, but I don't even have a hammer to weigh my hand. Fortunately, Amazon employees can watch Amazon Prime while waiting for lumberyard to render slowly.
Picture from: pcmag
Free doesn't flatter the players. Crucible is rated as a boring game that looks like "watch the vanguard" and plays like "apex", but plays in a single way. Amazon wants to add some Amazon specific elements in it, such as using Amazon's huge cloud server to achieve super multi player combat. However, the players who are discouraged by the monotonous gameplay do not give Amazon the opportunity to continue to improve.
Amazon's two games have obvious data-oriented color. What kind of games are popular in the market, Amazon will take these "ingredients" and make them into a stew to get a "popular on the market" popular game.
However, the backward game engine makes Amazon unable to keep up with the changes of players' tastes (Amazon has not yet launched its latest work, which is a popular big escape game three years ago). Leaders who do not understand the game can not grasp the interests that players really love. Amazon's game is like an assignment to report to the senior management, and failure may be inevitable.
Picture from: knowstegie
After Amazon acquired twitch in 2014, Bezos once envisioned combining the largest live game platform with its own game business: using twitch to attract traffic for new tours, and using game independent broadcasting to retain audiences.
This is a good thing with two circles of beauty, but the reality is contrary to Bezos's idea. Amazon encourages the anchor to live "breakaway" and "crucible" on twitch, but the more boring the game is live, the less people will watch it, and the less viewers will watch it, the less people will play it, forming a reverse vicious circle.
In September 2020, Amazon announced the launch of Luna cloud game platform to bet on the new track of cloud game. Similar to Google's stadia, Luna also uses a subscription system to charge for its online games, including control, biocrisis 7, Islander 6, Assassin's Creed: the hall of the souls, and transitories: the rise of Fennis.
With the combination of cloud game platform and twitch, Amazon may really realize the mutual circulation transformation between cloud game players and live audience this time. Unlike stadia, Amazon will continue to adhere to its dream of self-developed games.
In the era of cloud games, does the platform really need to monopolize the game
By carefully comparing the cloud game strategies of Google and Amazon, we can find some similarities between many Internet factions (corresponding to traditional manufacturers such as Nintendo and Sony): they have launched cloud game platforms, released corresponding game controllers, made great efforts to build live game platforms, and wanted to make big games.
Picture from: the verge
Compared with the talk on paper in the past few years, cloud games, which have gradually become a reality, have made many players enjoy the benefits of "playing games anytime and anywhere".
With the continuous improvement of network infrastructure and the rapid development of 5g technology, the "future" that we have mentioned countless times may have come to the corner of the times. People are preparing to enter an era of intersecting development of physical games and cloud games. Every cloud game manufacturer needs to think about whether it really needs an exclusive game when they are in direct confrontation with physical games?
This is a money burning business, and the final time also proves the value of Microsoft's money. Halo 1 successfully attracts the attention of players all over the world to Xbox, an unknown new console, for its super high game quality and epic space war. Many players specially start with Xbox in order to play halo 1, which greatly drives the sales of Xbox Console.
In the end, the cumulative sales of halo 1 exceeded 8 million, becoming the palace level series in the history of FPS games. Microsoft's Xbox also successfully entered the game industry, and formed a situation of three game machines with Nintendo and Sony. It can be said that halo 1 made the Xbox.
Why can Microsoft afford the money to monopolize the game, but Google and Amazon can't?
Even Microsoft's latest work halo: infinity, which costs US $500 million, has many players who don't like it
There are many reasons. For example, the expectation threshold of players for a masterpiece has been greatly increased compared with 20 years ago. If they want to produce another masterpiece like halo 1, even the royal family can't guarantee it. The more important reason is that in the charging mode of cloud game subscription system, the significance of monopoly for cloud game platform is not as good as the era of entity host.
Home game console has always been a loss making business. Whether it's Sony or Microsoft, its game console is sold at a cost line or even at a loss. For example, the cost of the first generation Xbox Console is as high as $450. However, in order to compete with the $299 PS2, Microsoft still insists on selling it at a loss of $299.
What the game machine manufacturers are interested in is the content consumption of the players after purchasing the hardware. This continuous hematopoietic capacity also makes the game machine manufacturers willing to spend a lot of money to create exclusive works, attracting the players to stay in their camp.
But in front of the subscription system of cloud games, the enclosure benefits of monopolizing blockbusters are obviously greatly reduced. Players can subscribe to the services of stadia or Luna in order to monopolize the game, or they can unsubscribe and switch to other camps at any time after playing. If you spend a lot of money but can't keep players, it will be an embarrassment for cloud service providers to monopolize the game.
Compared with exclusive games, bigger and more comprehensive game library and better cloud services are the differences of cloud game manufacturers' competition. After Google shut down the research and development of exclusive games, it focused on providing services for third-party manufacturers, which is not only a failure of strategy, but also a confirmation of the failure of physical game rules in the era of cloud games.
Neil campling, an analyst at mirabasud securities, once said: "the war on cloud Games has just begun. It's a new big technology competition. Amazon, apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft all want to win. 」
Whether it's Microsoft's xcloud, Facebook's Facebook gaming, or stadia and Luna, whoever first grasps the rules of the new arena is most likely to win.
The picture is from bussiness insider
Only time will tell us whether the stubborn Amazon will make a 3A masterpiece and become a new generation game story, or leave the game like Google.