Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Anytime, Anywhere" - Cross-Platform Is A Critical Strategy For Game Companies

Ubisoft's "Companion Gaming" Strategy Is A Hint At How The Gaming Industry Is Getting On-Board With The Cross-Platform Experience

Every current strategy analysis in the content industry inevitably turns to the idea of migrating the content across different devices.  In truth, this is one of  the factors that is most important to a majority of consumers.  If they buy or rent a film, they want to be able to watch it on their television, their iPad, their game console, their smartphone or any other device in their electronics arsenal.

With the introduction of the iPad 2 and the large marketing efforts for the tablets from Motorola, Samsung and others, the concept of cross-platform content delivery is becoming even more important.  The primary feature of the new generation of mobile devices is the ability to deliver a superior audiovisual experience, and consumers want to be able to take full advantage of that ability.

Ironically, there is a concurrent movement towards hardware integration.  Manufacturers are expanding the capabilities of their devices until a Nook, an iPad, a netbook, and the multitude of Android devices all provide essentially competitive functionality.  Consumers really don't want to carry around a smartphone, tablet, eBook reader and a laptop.  (They would need to get a good-sized dog just to help them carry all of their electronics!)  Ultimately, they would prefer to have one device that does everything.

But even as consumers try to reduce the number of devices they own and use, they still want all of their entertainment and electronic diversions available all the time, through whatever device is convenient at the moment.  It is critical to recognize and respect that desire. Companies that provide strong cross-platform solutions will be rewarded.  Those that fail to create a fully-integrated consumer experience are likely to alienate their audiences.

This article about Ubisoft's expansion in the social gaming space is actually what got me thinking about this.  Ubisoft clearly recognizes what consumers want and they are working to bring that to the gaming space.  The timing couldn't be better.

These and other factors show that the game business is still very much a growth industry.  There are more choices than ever for platforms on which to play the large and growing range of games. The industry  is generating billions and billions of dollars every year, and getting bigger.  It spawns films, television series, merchandise.  It is perhaps the most important segment of the entertainment industry in the digital age.

In order to fully capitalize on the current opportunities in gaming, it is critical that the game companies give their customers what they want -- the ability to seamlessly move between their various devices while not losing any continuity in their gaming experience.  Consumers ideally want to be able to start a game on a home console, continue it in their cars or on the train on a mobile device, and then continue on someone else's computer when they get to their destination -- all without starting over or missing a beat.

This cross-platform concept is already clearly a part of the strategy for companies in the film, TV and music segments.  With the advanced technology of mobile devices now capable of delivering an acceptable gaming experience, the adoption of this strategy is a critical step for game companies, as well.  The ability to implement an effective cross-platform gaming experience is likely to be a key difference between industry leaders and also-ran competitors in the coming years.


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