This has been a thought floating through my mind for a very long time. Back when NVIDIA GeForce Now was in beta, Blizzard Entertainment allowed them to have players use the Blizzard Launcher and play any Blizzard game through their cloud gaming stream service. The agreement fell flat off the rails when NVIDIA GeForce Now launched without reaching Blizzard to negotiate the NVIDIA GeForce Now Beta agreement moving forward into the launched NVIDIA Now service. You can read that February 12, 2020 article here with reference links.
Not only were Blizzard games removed from NVIDIA Geforce Now… the entire Activision portfolio of games too. So it was an Activision Blizzard large-scale crackdown.
It is been almost a whole year, with no apparent negotiation to bring back Activision Blizzard games to the GeForce Now platform.
That year has brought a couple paradigm shifts that have opened some new doors for Activision Blizzard to make a move into cloud gaming streaming — if the high executives and investors desired to enter that venue.
The Epic Games/Apple clash in courts over Fortnite has inspired companies like Google Stadia, Microsoft XCloud, and Amazon Luna to circumvent the AppStore. They have somehow managed to develop an infrastracture around the iPhone and iPad Safari browser to allow cloud games streaming outside of the AppStore.
Amazon Luna by September 25 stunned the tech news industry. They had just appeared on the scene, and already developing a progressive web app (PWA) to stream games in iOS, without the AppStore.
Just in November 5, the BBC reported that Fornite was set to return to iPhone through the Geforce Now cloud gaming service via the Safari web browser.
By the end of October 2020, Amazon invited a select number of players to test Amazon Luna Early-Access in iOS and Mac — with Apple’s blessing. By November 5, Apple News sites were already reviewing Amazon Luna. One of them claimed “Amazon Luna’s streaming tech is solid.” The reviewer also said that all you had to do was type “amazon.com/luna” in Safari to add the Luna app to the homescreen. They show a short video clip as a step-by-step guide.
In November 13, 2020 — Apple added PS5 controller and Amazon Luna support to iOS14.3 Beta. The iOS14 was launched today.
In addition, today GeForce Now became the first cloud gaming service to officially support iOS devices via the Safari browser — read the press release. GeForce Now is also coming soon to Android via the Google Chrome browser — circumventing the Google Play Store. Stadia is coming to Safari in a few weeks, and XCloud is planning to do so by 2021.
Things are moving really fast and the opportunities for Activision Blizzard are open wide in iOS and Mac at this point.
Why should Blizzard partner with Nvidia Geforce Now, Microsoft XCloud, Google Stadia or Amazon Luna… when Activision Blizzard can launch their own Progressive Web App and allow Activision players and Blizzard players access World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, Call of Duty games, and other portfolio favorites for a flat monthly fee or free with ads, or even without ads.
Microtransactions end when the player logs out and moves on with their daily routine outside of their home. But if you could login into World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Call of Duty, etc. to play the game via your iPhone or iPad. Or even if you have an old MacBook (in addition to your PC) that can no longer run your favorite games — but you can launch the stream app without graphics/lag impact… that allows Activision Blizzard to boost their microtransactions outside of the comfort of players’ homes: in their commute, their office, their travel, at the park, and anywhere you can muster some downtime to load the app and play.
Not just that, bringing old customers who were basically stranded without their favorite games merely because they haven’t upgraded their computer systems in many years, and their favorite games no longer support their CPUs and/or graphic cards? Streaming to the browser is a welcome workaround that opens that door to Activision Blizzard’s microtransaction games.
By launching their own cloud gaming service, Activision Blizzard would be saving on outrageous fees to pay Apple, or Stadia, or XCloud, or Amazon Luna. All going straight to Activision Blizzard’s pocket. Will Activision Blizzard go for developing their own cloud gaming stream platform? I think it is just a matter of time before they make the official announcement — and I have a feeling the app might come from Blizzard Entertainment’s engineering team.
There were some words spoken by Daniel Alegre at the Activision Blizzard Q3 2020 investors call (read transcript) that probably triggered dread to some players who are against mobile gaming — worrying about Blizzard moving exclusively to mobile gaming. We have heard at BlizzCon a few times that PC gaming development will continue; but what if what Daniel Alegre signaled here is not necessarily development of mobile games — but bringing the existing PC and Console games to mobile via the Blizzard cloud gaming stream service?
Daniel Alegre: “We’re also excited just for the next-generation of consoles and the potential they offer to really bring even more compelling experiences to our players. And you’re already seeing us supporting the new hardware with the launch of Black Ops: Cold War on day one, as Rob was mentioning. Ultimately, for us, our priority is to build the best player experiences where our players want to be and really where they can connect with other members of the community.
It’s just so powerful. That said, though, our development resources just are finite. So we really have to focus on where the biggest opportunities are. For example, we need to make sure that we’re enabling our franchises on the billions of mobile devices that are available right now. That’s by far our biggest opportunity, and we’re investing meaningfully to capitalize on this and to take all our franchises to mobile over time. That’s really important for us.”
This could explain why Activision Blizzard pulled their entire portfolio drastically from GeForce Now, and the EULA/TOS changes to prevent cloud streaming gameplay. They might be developing their own cloud streaming service.