Google Looks to Bring More Mobile Payments to Subscription Gaming

March 1, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

While streaming video isn’t exactly anything new, streaming gaming is something that’s only recently gotten started. It’s still early days on this particular frontier, and it’s not surprising to see just about anyone throw their hat in the ring. Recent word emerged from Google that suggested it was going to try its hand herein, and see about bringing some more mobile payments-style activities to the field as well.

The word from Google on this point is actually somewhat similar to the word from Apple, as both companies were setting up streaming game platforms, complete with gaming hardware. Early word reports that Google is working to stream “…intensive, interactive content with minimal lag,” and has already done something similar by making the game “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” available to play via streaming for four months. Eventually, the word is that Google will offer up a kind of “Netflix for Games” sort of service provided via a specific, lower-cost hardware system.

With 2.3 billion gamers on the planet spending a combined total of $137.9 billion on games just in 2019, it’s easy to see why Google likely would love nothing more than to see even a single percent of that total charged through Google Pay. Similar word about the importance of gaming on Apple devices has emerged, suggesting a possible avenue that way too.

The problem with either of these strategies is that the content needs to be there. Every E3, we’re constantly subject to marketing blitzes around “exclusive” games, games that can be played only on one platform or another. Microsoft and Sony, the two console leaders, routinely compete for titles to release only on their platform. What will Google—and potentially Apple—do in response? Sure, most of their titles are exclusives, but they’re not exactly the kind of games that people would buy console hardware for. After all, part of the draw of these games is they’re mobile, they work anywhere. Why tie yourself down with console hardware for a game that works well on a smartphone?

This could be an interesting move, but it’s going to take a lot of fleshing out. It could also be very lucrative for Google and possibly Apple, but it will need a serious draw to get users in the fold.