Amazon's GameOn Service Could Be Game Changing

TNL Take: Developers want to concentrate on one thing: making good games. However a slew of services need to be incorporated to make really great games. This could be anything from multiplayer functionality, leaderboards and tournaments to rewarding the top players - anything that drives game engagement and retention.

Amazon announced on Monday, Amazon GameOn, a cross-platform, competitive gaming service for developers. With GameOn, developers can easily integrate competitions natively into their games on mobile, PC, and console through a set of flexible APIs which is built on AWS cloud infrastructure. 

Here's what stands out about GameOn:

01/SERVICES

Survival_Arena_Leaderboard.jpg

GameOn currently supports leaderboards, leagues, and multi-round competitions - but most importantly gives developers - or anyone really -  the flexibility to create custom events. These tournaments can also be geo-targeted to allow for specific groups of players to take part. This could anywhere from countries and states to just your local McDonald's, which opens up a multitude of brand opportunities.

Developers can also enable players and streamers to create their own user-generated competitions and invite participants. Just imagine Twitch phenom Ninja running a Fortnite tournament for his massive viewing audience while doling out prizes to the winners - more on that shortly.

Further, all of these components are integral to creating a great esports experience outside the core component of the game itself.

Currently, Amazon GameOn is being used by 13 developers including nWay, Game Insight, Millennial Esports’ Eden Games and others.

 

02/PRIZING

Survival_Arena_Redeem_Prize.png

his is where it gets really interesting. In game rewards as well as watch-to-earn rewards have been around for a while and implemented in almost every mobile game. However implementing real-world rewards is a challenge. During my time at Kiip, one of the companies that pioneered rewards for games, we needed to collect email addresses in order to achieve fulfillment.

With Amazon GameOn, you simply sign into your Amazon account - and at this point who doesn't have one in the US - and the item is automatically shipped to you with no additional work for the developer or the customer. 

Another scenario: you're playing a geo-located tournament in Madden Mobile and the Top 10 winners all receive the team's jersey for placing. The cost of the jerseys could either be looked as a marketing expense or even better - have them brought to you by a brand.

 

03/COST

What's this all cost? Developers can use GameOn APIs for free until May 1, 2018. After that date, the first 35,000 plays per month are free for a limited time, then developers will pay $0.003 per play. 

Running simple math, if your game is doing 1M plays per day, that's almost $100,000 per month which may become cost prohibitive unless the ROI is there for developers that don't have any of the services integrated.

The Switch Could Be Nintendo’s Answer To eSports

THE SWITCH COULD BE NINTENDO'S ANSWER TO ESPORTS

Will The Nintendo Switch Drive eSports? (Photo: Machinima)

TNL Take: Nintendo is not knowing for being the most nimble company. The iPhone came out in 2007 yet it took a decade for Nintendo to release it’s first iOS game with Super Mario Run.

However, Nintendo is known for completely thinking out-of-the-box. From the toy gun used in Duck Hunt, the Nintendo Gameboy and the radical Wii.

There’s also been some missteps like R.O.B (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Power Glove, the Virtual Boy and the Wii U.

While eSports has been around for over a decade and exploded over the past few years, Nintendo has stayed on the sidelines

The Nintendo Switch might finally be their entrance to eSports.

Here's why.

/01 CONSOLE + MOBILE GAMING

The Nintendo Switch (Photo: Nintendo)

The genius of the Nintendo Switch is you can play console quality games at home on your TV and then take the “console” with you wherever you want. If they can pull this off with more titles, they may have finally bridged the elusive mobile eSport.

Yes, you can argue mobile games like Vainglory and Clash Royale are true mobile eSports but stick with me here.

 

/02 CASUAL AUDIENCE

Have you tried to play a game like League of Legends for the 1st time? Even a PHD in Physics would have a hard time to grasp not only what’s going on, but how to actually play it.

Almost all popular eSports titles – League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty – are all very hardcore titles that have a relatively steep learning curve and even harder to make it as a Pro.

The first The Next Level 001 addressed the fact that for eSports to grow even bigger, the industry needs to cater to more of a casual playing audience.

Nintendo has practically invented the casual gamer since Super Mario Bros.  The games are extremely easy to learn and pick up. My dad has never played a video game yet loved Wii Bowling and Tennis.

Which brings us to the next point.

 

03/ THE GAMES

The early games being released for the Switch are super casual and could make early converts engage with eSports.

Ill put my chips on Splatoon 2 (which is like a cartoonish Third Person Shooter), Arms (basically boxing), Ultra Street Fighter 2 (already hugely popular) and the biggest one of all, Mario Kart 8 – who doesn’t love Mario Kart?

Splatoon has had several tournaments already:

·      2015: Japanese had an event with a $1M prize pool

·      2016: ESL held a months long tournament

·      2017: Nintendo promoted Splatoon on Battlefy’s platform

 

04/ LAN PLAY

The internet connection failing and lack of infrastructure at arena’s make online connectivity a big issue in eSports even in 2017. I’m going to directly quote from Nintendo’s press release to showcase an amazing new feature:

The Nintendo Switch Lan Play aka Squid (Photo: Nintendo)

“A new feature called LAN Play will be added to Splatoon 2, allowing up to 10 docked systems—eight players and two spectators—to connect via wired LAN. This feature allows players to create local Private Battle tournaments without the need for an Internet connection. Local wireless play is perfect for your regular gaming get-togethers, but LAN Play is where it’s at when you want to organize a serious tournament event with your fellow players.”

Instead of lugging around consoles, cords and other miscellanea, you just bring your Switch.

Yes you’ll need to buy the cord separately but it’s an amazing feature.

 

05/ SPECTATOR MODE

One of the other big challenges in eSports is how to translate what the player is seeing, that’s applicable to a spectator. Splatoon 2 will offer a “Private Battle Spectator View”, where two people can watch eight players battle it out.

That potentially solves the "who's the cameraman issue?"

 

THE ISSUES

While all that sounds rosy, there are still some obstacles that Nintendo will need to overcome to make this successful.

Nintendo’s controllers don’t seem to be the most friendly for extended play and far from either the PS4, Xbox One or even a keyboard and mouse.

Nintendo Switch's Controllers (Photo: Nintendo)

While it seems that Nintendo is making a push towards eSports, will they actually fully support it like other publishers? Nintendo wanted to stop the live stream of Super Smash Bros. Melee back in EVO 2013. Their full commitment remains to be seen.

Ultimately, I’m excited for the Nintendo Switch as it’s something never done before.

 

Also play Zelda…it’s awesome.