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Business of Esports TV: Amazon Prime Gaming

(Livestream 136)

In this segment, we discuss Amazon opening their gaming program Luna to Prime members.

The Business Of Esports brings you news, debates, and all the information you need to know about the gaming sector, the world’s fastest-growing market. With Paul “The Profit” Dawalibi leading the charge, and a variety of special guests, BoE TV is the only place to find insider information on the esports industry!

Check out the full livestream here:

Paul Dawalibi 31:43
And and this announcement, I thought was interesting that Amazon’s game streaming service, Luna is opening access to all Prime members starting June or June 21. And June 22nd, which is amazon prime days. And and the other article, which I will tie this to, is Microsoft developing new hardware to bring game pass, and cloud gaming to TVs. So basically a dongle you’ll plug in your TV sounds a lot like Google stadia. And so, you know, to sort of cloud gaming pieces of news. For me, unfortunately, I’m just a bit sad that people are still pursuing cloud gaming. You know, not having learned their lesson from stadia. But does anyone? Is anyone bullish on either of these? Is anyone surprised by the Amazon announcement? How soon it’s coming? I think I that surprised me. Just curious to get your thoughts on these two stories.

Jeff Cohen 33:31
Do we know what games are on the Amazon with Amazon

William Collis 33:34
saw it in the screenshot? Jeff?

Paul Dawalibi 33:36
Yeah, so it’s six, it’s going to be free to try for seven days, okay. For prime subscribers, it’s going to be available on Windows, Mac, Fire TV, and iPhone, iPad, and select Android phones, whatever that means. The pricing $6 a month for access to games, including control, which by the way, was free on the Epic Games Store just last week, or

William Collis 33:59
is also an anchor launch title for the Epic is what got me to install it

Paul Dawalibi 34:03
Grid and Metro Exodus. And once you’ve got once you’ve got a Luna account, so once you’re paying the $6 a month, you can pay 1499 extra to get the Ubisoft plus channel, which gives you access to Ubisoft games like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and watchdogs.

Jimmy Mondal 34:24
This sounds like a dystopia I don’t want to live in anymore like

Paul Dawalibi 34:28
and the controllers being discounted. Just FYI. I

Jeff Cohen 34:31
mean, it’s smarter than it’s smarter than I think the tide is with prime. And we’ve kind of that makes sense. We would have thought that initially, but the fact that they’re tying this trial, or this alpha period with prime i think is a smart move, although everyone has prime so I guess it’s basically just open to everyone. But this is going to be a non event because the tech not Google stadia proved the technology for this exists. It works. It just nobody cares unless you have exclusive content, like it just doesn’t matter

Paul Dawalibi 35:03
what’s approved. I mean, the technology worked. Sorta, sorta. Yeah,

Jimmy Mondal 35:10
I think launch is kind of concerning because grids are racing game. It’s a DiRT Rally game. DiRT Rally is very Twitch and very reactive. One wrong move, you’re off the track. two milliseconds is everything. This is probably the worst title you could have chosen to demonstrate the server based gaming. So have fun with that.

William Collis 35:31
Yeah, let’s see. I this actually I think this sounds way more appealing than I thought it was gonna be. For Really? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, seriously, can I defend this? Like, sir? Yeah, I like this. Or here’s my defense cuz I this is actually not me being facetious. I genuinely think that sounds a lot better than I thought, Okay, first of all, one time to prime. I never thought they do it. But they did it. And that’s super smart. Because, you know, like, I’m just telling you, you’re gonna get a ton of people activating this, because it’s a free game and prime. And you know, you guys just like, Oh, it’s easy. I’m, it’s in my prime account already. Let’s do it. Let’s try it out. So I think you’re gonna get a relatively high early adoption, just because probably a bunch of people with prime haven’t played some of these games. That’s the first thing, right? Second thing is the price points, great. six bucks. Like, I like that price point. I guarantee you they tried to hit five and couldn’t, I’m telling you right now, it was supposed to be a $5 launch price. And they just couldn’t quite get the economics to work. But whatever. $6 launch price is cheap enough that it’s below even the baseline movie and TV subscription services. It’s probably something you could just fold in and forget about. Right. And, you know, I go back to like, Who is this service really, for? You know, I think what, what stadia showed us is, this is not a service for gamers, right? This is a service for liminal people who were like, you know, maybe on mobile may be curious, right? who want to get into gaming with an upgrade who want to get into gaming in a light, easy, low cost way, that’s really the market here. And are these bad titles for that general audience controls of fine narrative driven seven peaks style Twin Peaks style game? You know, I imagine an off road racing game has big sort of non core gamer appeal, you know, like, I could see these titles like, these aren’t great. Like, don’t get me wrong, like these games are old,

Paul Dawalibi 37:15
you know? Right. Right. But I totally I totally and free in other places,

William Collis 37:19
yeah. Or in other places, but it’s like a simple starter proposition for somebody who is already starting to use Amazon for other types of media like video purchase and stuff. Like, I could see this, this has a more defensible niche than stadia, which was trying to be like, I don’t know who stadia was for with $60 games. And, you know, this is like the at least this is more this is like, if you already have a prime account, and you’re curious about games, here are some pretty good games for six bucks. Like, that seems pretty good to me. You know, it’s not going to be the future of gaming, but it seems a pretty good start. I thought this was dead on arrival,

Paul Dawalibi 37:57
good for parents to write one’s the one off provide their kids with a lot of different distractions. Like, your best quote, for me, the best part of that was, you know, who’s this for? Right? Because I’m looking at these titles. It’s not for me, you know, I’m looking at what I want to play here. The upsell for Ubisoft the amount of time it’s going to take me to beat Valhalla. I would it’s cheaper to buy the game then because it’s gonna take me a few months. Right? And that $15 upcharge, which I imagine is on top of the six. I can’t quite tell. Yeah, so I’m just gonna wait to the game goes on sale. But But yeah, I agree with that, like I like I think that this is for that, it reminds me of how Twitch or excuse me prime was also provided Twitch subs for free, right, you get one free, easy at one free sub for all prime holders. And these kids, you still do. And these kids would use their parents prime subscription or their prime subscriptions, and then throw that sub to their favorite streamer. I thought that packaging was clever, as well. And then you see it here. With Luna. I think it’s for parents, and I think it’s for kids, honestly. Not parents, maybe for parents to give to their kids, I think Yeah, sorry.

William Collis 39:05
But I just It feels like I mean, obviously, you know what, and I guarantee you if all of this offering was the same, we the one twist, right, one twist. Amazon had an exclusive game that they developed through their studio, I forgot what their studio was called. Or if it’s even still around, but whatever, you know, right. They had an exclusive game that anchored this and it was a relatively high, it wouldn’t have to be a good hype game, which have to be a relatively hype. They were spaced out a couple

Jeff Cohen 39:35
100 $50 million, like massive mega hit. Yeah, that’s a that’s a big caveat.

William Collis 39:44
Well, I agree, a big caveat. But then this starts then actually, this might start to look like a steam because we’d all try it just to play the game and then who knows where it goes. So I know it’s a massive caveat. But like for Amazon strategically, I bet they had thought about marrying those things at some point, which was A story of how this got here. And also, Amazon has the money. If this works as a first step, they can just go buy or license something to get that anchor. I really do believe that right? Like, if this is a very I think what you’re seeing is a first strong but still relatively lukewarm for a for them. And if the metrics here come back with anything like positive The next thing you’re gonna read is amazon inc, three year exclusive deal with, you know, respond interactive for you know, future Apex world expansion, you know, Todd Howard, yeah. Yeah. Todd, Todd Howard.

Jeff Cohen 40:41
Are you more bullish on this or Epic Games Store? I know they’re not exactly the same. But similar strategy, right? Or put your bash on this

William Collis 40:51
more bullish on this? Just because it’s Amazon or Why? Just because it’s at because like, I think Epic Games Store is in Scituate, is it a challenge where it’s always going to be second fiddle for Steam. And I don’t see it doing enough to displace the anchored. So I’m not saying it can’t be a successful alternative marketplace. And I’ll pop it like, this actually has a potential to be a different distribution model forgiveness could really bring games to the 40 plus demo that, you know, is curious about the medium and you know, didn’t have an easy, accessible way. And now it’s the same place you buy your groceries, right? You know, like telling you, you can get a game like this has more of a game changing perspective. To me, I think if I want to know which one is more likely to succeed, it’s the Epic Store. But which one has more potential to be an Epic? Like, which one would I prefer to be betting on? I’d bet on Amazon because it could be a sea change for the industry. And it’s a good sea change. It’s one around inclusivity, right? Like the Epic Games Store isn’t gonna convert game of somebody who’s non gamer into a game or just getting rented gamer to buy somewhere else. This might actually turn people who aren’t gamers into gamers.

Lindsay Poss 42:00
Sorry. Yeah, I know that you all are tired of me talking about broadband, which is lucky because I actually just published an op ed about how by bad broadband is holding back cloud gaming. And I don’t think that this surface is going the surface is going to be successful. Unless broadband gets better. I don’t see how any cloud service could be successful until broadband gets better. A lot of us are in cities where there’s multiple providers, there’s a lot of speed options, there’s plenty of towers around you to make that that signal strong and consistent. But the majority of Americans are not in similar situations. And I am extremely surprised. And I continue to be surprised that gaming companies don’t take a more active interest in improving broadband. Because not only cloud gaming is the first in a series of really big technological advances, you talk about AR and VR, all of that is going to require better connections that we don’t have. There’s a lot of potential technologies on the horizon that could solve this, but nothing has been stand out. so far. Nothing has captured and given people the connection that they need to pursue even regular activities. I know you all saw that saw the articles during the pandemic about dropped Zoom calls. Yeah, I know, you thought you got the unstable connection warning. Like, I just think that the services are putting the cart before the horse,

Paul Dawalibi 43:26
the technology problems haven’t been solved, like. Like, like there are other technology problems that haven’t been solved. I think, regardless of the technology problems, you guys are focused on the wrong things and are wrong on Amazon on this one. Like To me, this is a huge Miss for Amazon. It’s also quintessentially very unlike Amazon strategy in most other markets. Fundamentally, Amazon had in my mind had a huge opportunity here to really make an impact on gaming. And all they had to do because for me the stadia is failure was not just technology. Yes, technology was a big problem. stadia is failure was and Jimmy brought this up. It’s who’s the audience, but I will expand on Jimmy’s thought and say, What is the business model that you’re using to target that audience, right. And the match or mismatch between those two things, to me is why stadia failed, because those two things just didn’t make sense together, right? You have a hyper casual targeted service, but a business model that’s so complex, even a hardcore gamer can’t figure it out. The games are only for hardcore gamers like not that there was this mismatch between product and business model and the audience. And Amazon has made the same mistake here, same mistake. And let me give you what I think Amazon should have done here because I think they had an opportunity for a home run. Amazon makes a ton of money on prime subscriptions huge, right. It’s massively profitable. And if they had Use gaming as a way to push more prime subscriptions. To me, this is where you win. And what I would have done if I was Amazon is given away the game Luna for free, because six bucks a month is nothing, right? Give the gaming service away for free with prime, you, you juice your prime subscriptions because guaranteed people see more value, you will get more signups. And that’s 100 or $120 a year, you know subscription as opposed to $6 a month, it costs you basically nothing to add this service on top. And, and now you’ve really opened it up to a potentially huge audience, because who’s not going to sign up for free, right, who’s not going to take the freebie. And so you have a much bigger impact and being Amazon, you have the ability to monetize this not just through prime subscriptions, but through selling like through e commerce through advertising through a bunch of other ways that your competitors just don’t have. And to me, that’s the Amazon business model, right when they wanted to get into the diaper business. They bought a zillion diapers, they price them lower than the competition, and they put everyone else out of business. Like why not do the same with with cloud gaming, when you have so many other ways to monetize this service?

William Collis 46:14
So so the analogy? Yeah, sorry. The analogy there is like they should go buy a studio, give the games away for free and turn everything into a product now.

Paul Dawalibi 46:23
No, I To me, this is not about exclusivity at all. This is about the the product, the business model and the audience. We all agree cloud gaming is a more casual audience. So make this a free service with prime and figure out other ways to monetize this,

Jeff Cohen 46:38
don’t get how you can justify giving it away like they already have, I think you’d have to charge something on top of prime or increase the price of prime. You already prime already has, you know, 200 million plus subscribers, like you’re not going to get more people subscribing to prime because of this. There’s just like, I just think the audience is you think their

Paul Dawalibi 47:00
prime is totally saturated?

Jeff Cohen 47:02
There’s no no to be happy. I think as people mature, they get prime, but I don’t think there are that many people out there that are like, man, I really, I can’t afford prime. I don’t want prime. Oh, they added a video. Let

Paul Dawalibi 47:14
me let me ask you a question. They troll your Let me ask you a question. You’re your prime customer, right? What is what do you think people are more likely to say yes to Okay. Hey, Jeff, you pay $120 a year for Prime come sign up for my gaming subscription at $6 a month. Okay, up sales pitch number one, versus Hey, Jeff, you pay $120 for prime, right? We’re gonna raise it to $130 because we’re providing so much value. Do you even do even blink at that one? No, no.

Jeff Cohen 47:47
And so you’re saying they would raise the price. But Same thing with

Paul Dawalibi 47:52
$1.24 $10 up charge across a 200 million person? base, right is way more growth than $6 a month and maybe you get 100,000

Jeff Cohen 48:07
up charge for it and not necessarily say this is for this, of course over time you basically get that value? It’s what the

Paul Dawalibi 48:15
service makes sense.

Jeff Cohen 48:16
That makes sense, I promise you’d be you know, the risk is you’re giving away a lot in the hope that you can extract more in the future, where you don’t like the cost of giving this away is fairly high, right? Like cloud gaming is really expensive.

Paul Dawalibi 48:31
Not for Amazon, you have a server web server.

Jimmy Mondal 48:35
And they’re not making exclusive games. So if Paul’s point, but I also I think William makes a good point in that. I think it’s valuable in the sense that it’s a gateway drug, and it’ll get the people hopefully to spend more time on the platform of Twitch overall as well. But I don’t know if that’s the main thing that they’re going for. I think that will be a byproduct.

Paul Dawalibi 48:55
Mark my words Luna doesn’t hit even a million subscribers doesn’t doesn’t even come close. This goes the way of stadia 100 because of the mismatch between the audience and the business model. I did. Probably Probably not.

Jeff Cohen 49:10
I’m not even sure if they did it your way, Paul, if it would have it would have been better, but I’m still not sure it would have hit a million subscribers because maybe but it

Paul Dawalibi 49:21
would have squeezed your competitors a little bit your presence now you have an impact. Yeah. Right. I

Jeff Cohen 49:27
still don’t get what the value proposition is.

William Collis 49:29
Kill. The easiest way to do this whole thing, rather than this convoluted back channel is just make your own games, you know, or like buy it. I mean, I just I hate to say it, but like, we’re all kind of retrofitting for this problem. Like when Amazon wanted to go into grocery, right? They weren’t just like, you know, they like what they do they recognize Geez, we should probably buy a grocery store. You know, because it’s tough to go into grocery without owning a grocery business.

Jimmy Mondal 49:58
Right? I think it’s a natural thing. Russian now right under them.

William Collis 50:01
Yeah, and a lot of what they’ve done is like white late, like, I just think like, it’s very strange and why we’re in this position is because I think this should have been paired with some sort of, and I think everything changed when it’s paired with a content play. And I think it’s an unusual Miss for Amazon, particularly after their internal dev maybe doesn’t do it, they want to then shy away from a content acquisition because they don’t seem to be shy of to buy things when they think space is important. Like, if you think of how they’ve entered pretty much every market from shoes to food, they bought people, you know.

Jeff Cohen 50:34
I mean, that’s exactly what Microsoft did when they you know, when they brought out Xbox. That’s exactly right. Married content with with distribution.

William Collis 50:43
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and this is launching a cloud gaming service is the same as launching a console and a lot of ways and so I think if you have a formula that works for console and you’re surprised when like, like, you know, like like you’re building a neogeo right now you know less than I do right well be quiet near just good system.

Paul Dawalibi 51:03
But I just I want to I want to read this William Christian loves your commentary on Amazon Christian says also agree with Paul’s point that Christian you can agree with both of us agree with Paul’s point that Amazon’s business model is pointed to the prime subscription why not include it for free and then jackup Prime price across the board by $1 or two next year? Agreed? Or should that’s that’s what that was what Amazon should have done

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