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Netflix finally has competition, it’s Disney

Disney has set its sights at the streaming industry for a while. Talks of the company starting a streaming service have been going around since before 2017. Finally, it has been stated by Disney that they will launch their service on 12 November 2019. It has been named Disney+ and it’s in a direct collision course with all the existing streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and most importantly Netflix.

Difficult scenario for Disney

Netflix is by far the biggest streaming service in the world right now. It has around 139 million paid subscribers worldwide. For comparison, Amazon Prime Video has around 20 million and Hulu has less than 1 million. Even the closest competitor falls short by more than 100 million users. In this environment, Disney has decided to disrupt the market and take over Netflix’s reign with Disney+.

That is not an easy feat to accomplish. There need to be concrete plans and attractive offers for customers to make the jump from one product to another. Disney knows this and has already taken steps. Its streaming service will allow users to sign up for only $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. When compared to the prices offered by Netflix of $7.99 a month, it’s a whole dollar less. Clearly, Disney+ wins in the when it comes to the price plans provided.

Price is not the only consideration for the audience though. Being cheaper does nothing if there’s nothing to be gained in return for the money. If there are no shows or movies that people would actually want to watch on the platform, there will be no reason to switch. Netflix gives its users access to around over 5,500 titles that include both TV shows and movies. Disney needs to start with at least somewhat comparable catalogue to stand a chance.

A handful of brilliant shows

The people at Disney also realizes this, and seemingly, they are ready to step up to the challenge. Disney+ will have all the classic Disney movies like Bambi and The Lion King, the Star Wars movies, and Marvel’s and Fox’s original movies and shows like The Simpsons. They also plan to have at least a dozen or so Disney originals up on the platform in the first year of its operation. All of these will be exclusive to Disney+.

That means Netflix might lose the rights to show Marvel movie or Fox shows on its site and have to concede them to the mouse.

On top of all this, Disney has resolved to weather through losses up until 2024. They expect that the service will not be profitable until 2024 and they are ready to stick with it until then. That kind of commitment can only be made by Disney and it’s hard to imagine that any other company will be able to go toe to toe with that level of dedication.

The announcement of Disney+ has been a meteor to the media industry. The ripples of the impact can only be felt as all the players are shifting in their seats. The aggressive pricing plan and the enviable library of content that the service is poised to launch with will change the landscape of streaming service industry for certain.

Video game streaming: A market on the horizon

Streaming services have gained a foothold in virtually every entertainment market over the past decade. Netflix and other streaming services have practically put cable television to rest. One industry that direct streaming hasn’t ventured into is gaming. That is about to change, for better or worse. Companies have observed the $150 billion worth industry and noted the potential for expansion. And they can’t wait to capitalize on it.

The Game

The answer to the question, “What could video game streaming achieve?” is still very vague.

In theory, a streaming service encompassing all devices could eliminate the need for consoles and console exclusive games. We could play any game on any device with sufficient hardware. And if someone has doubts about that, think about it this way: If there was an opportunity to make more games available on any device, either the producers would step up the hardware in their devices for less money, or games would be developed with better optimization, making them less demanding.

The Players

There is a very likely possibility of having console quality games on even mobile devices if streaming comes to pass, in the way it should. More for less is good news for customers. But what are the potential players in the streaming market preparing to offer?

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Project XCloud began with the expression that their vision for the future of gaming didn’t involve an expensive console. A cynical person such as myself might attribute that sentiment to their expensive console not selling. After the disappointment of the Xbox One despite it’s great hardware, Microsoft looked to take the beef off the device and implement it to their servers. They plan the service to avail top tier video games in any and all devices. This was exciting news for video game enthusiasts. XCloud allows you to play Xbox games without ever owning an Xbox, with all the features like crossplay, party chat and competitive online play available. All you need is an XCloud account to have access to the Xbox’s library of games on any device, even your smartphone. A Wi-Fi connection with decent speed or even a 4G connection can avail the XCloud to anyone, anywhere.

Google

A few months after Project XCloud’s announcement, Google introduced us to the beta version of its Project Stream. The service offers game streaming via the Google Chrome browser. The process was demonstrated by streaming Assassin’s Creed Odyssey over Chrome. Google offered the game for free to beta testers (those who met a few criteria) for the procedure that ran from last October to January 2019. There were a few problems, but the major takeaway was streaming via the Chrome browser is possible for a high-end game running at 60 fps on 1080p HD.

The others and how they hold up

Aside from the more prominent projects of Google and Microsoft, it is rumoured that Apple might also be working on a game streaming service. Granted, Apple hasn’t exactly had much to do with gaming at any point. But the allure of the market might finally be bringing them around.

It can be argued that Sony with Remote Play and PlayStation Now has already done what Microsoft and Google are trying to do. The truth is that the PS4’s remote play allows games to be played on the PSVita and the PC, but only up to 720p resolution. And you have to keep your PS4 running over the internet or across your room. In addition, the PlayStation Now service requires that you own a Sony PlayStation device to play the games on it. And the streaming service has been tormented by input lag issues and low quality video capability. So the XCloud and Project stream are far more than just counters to the PlayStation on Xbox and PC respectively.

The future

There is a very simple idea at work here. If you own a game you should be able to take it with you wherever and play it on whatever. Backwards compatibility and streaming on demand are facets of the idea. Offerings like Project XCloud have the potential to change the entire gaming market going forward by redefining how you buy a game and how you own it. This is not to say that console exclusives or physical copy ownership in gaming are going away. Many people are still sceptical of digital ownership, which is why you can still buy game disks. And console exclusives are a great way to market and sell consoles.

Video game streaming in the context of Project XCloud and Project Stream is an indication of inclusion and reach. More games will be available to more people far more conveniently. You can own a console with exclusive games and buy physical copies if you want to. And someone else can play games they want to play on anything from a phone to a tablet at any place if one wants to. Simply put, video game streaming can find the balance Netflix and Cable couldn’t. It can provide a solution to everyone without upsetting anyone or shutting down any preceding option. So when Microsoft talks about Project XCloud being the Netflix of video games, they aren’t looking to put the last nail in console gaming’s coffin, just because the last two generations of Xbox got owned by basically every other console.

At least that’s what we hope. It’s Microsoft. They’ve screwed up good things before. All we can do is wait and see. Good thing is if it doesn’t look good, you can still resort to pre-existing means. This isn’t the 3.5 mm jack, no one’s trying to replace it for dubious reasons.