Cloud Gaming: The Next-Gen Way To Play

Xsolla Program Director Neela Daas talks about why this is the right time for game developers to embrace Xsolla’s latest solution, plus a new way to monetize games in the cloud.

In February of 2023, Xsolla, a global video game commerce company with a robust and powerful set of tools and services designed specifically for the video game industry, introduced a new solution to help developers reach a larger audience worldwide by connecting to more players through the cloud and offering a new pay-as-you-go model. 

Heading up Xsolla’s Cloud Gaming initiative is Program Director Neela Dass, a technology and gaming products expert with over 12 years of experience working with developers to evolve their business strategies. 

We asked Neela to talk about Xsolla’s latest solution and why this is the right time in the gaming industry to introduce it.

Can you give us some background about Xsolla Cloud Gaming and why Xsolla felt it was an important market segment to address?

The short answer is that Xsolla Cloud Gaming helps developers aggregate multiple streaming vendors with fewer steps in less time. It allows our partners to reach gamers in nearly every region of the world and minimize latency issues. They can also choose to integrate a pay-as-you-go monetization model on their own custom website. 

Xsolla has always been committed to supporting game developers. We make it easier for them to reach their audience by combining the streaming technology behind their games with the power to create immersive branded online experiences for players worldwide. We embraced the segment of cloud gaming because, as the video game industry has grown over the past several years, game developers face challenges such as game availability for every player, high cost of user acquisitions, limited monetization models, and security.

The cloud gaming market is growing due to 5G expansion, increased internet penetration, improvements in cloud infrastructure, new types of game content, and the trend towards cross-platform gameplay. At the same time, persistent companies have cloud gaming tied to their core business, but many are unprofitable due to research and development costs. Given all this, there is room for experimentation in cloud gaming. 

Xsolla is thrilled to provide an absolutely new branded, direct-to-consumer approach for games in the cloud Xsolla’s plan was to merge our simple-to-use Xsolla Site Builder, Login, Metaframe, Pay Station (in-game service), and Partner Network with local global cloud gaming vendors to help create branded online experiences where gamers can play on any device. Xsolla believes that by bringing more games to the cloud,  users will save money, the entry threshold will decrease, and players’ monetization behavior will change.

With the launch of Cloud Gaming Solution, Xsolla will also help increase the availability of cloud-based games to players around the globe and provide them with the ability to pay as they go for their gaming experiences. Players can now demo games online that were previously unavailable to them in their region and only pay for the time they played the game. This is a new way to play the game, a new way to pay for the game and content without hardware. Developers will have more new users, improved user experience, new platform opportunities, security for game delivery, and closer relationships with gamers. With the cloud experience, everyone can win and enjoy the game.

Image credit: Xsolla

Is the PAYG monetization model really that powerful?

It really has the potential to be that powerful. While subscriptions have historically been the monetization model of choice for cloud gamers, the pay-as-you-go option is rising in popularity. It allows players to control their budgets by paying only for their time in the game. 

Developers benefit from PAYG by analyzing player behavior and experimenting with different pricing strategies to identify the optimal price point attracting players. When they understand their users’ preferences, they can more effectively monetize their cloud game and create a sustainable revenue stream.

Pay As You Go is preferred by 32% of gamers versus 22% who favor subscription monetization models. Moreover, this is not something new in the gaming industry, the PAYG model has been tried in different forms by big companies in the form of game rental, Steam free weekend play, and other approaches.

How does Xsolla Cloud Gaming work for players and developers?

Players — with or without a gaming PC — head to a developer’s custom-branded website/preferred distribution path, including on Xsolla Mall. They log in using email to enjoy a high-quality game experience remotely from the cloud. The only thing needed to instantly play games wherever and whenever is a good internet connection. That’s it.

The pay-as-you-go model — often referred to as PAYG — of Xsolla Cloud Gaming allows players to try before buying and pay only for the minutes or hours they spend inside the game plus any in-app purchases.

Image credit: Xsolla

Developers provide us their PC binary or APK, which we upload to cloud services and host their game on a landing page they customize with a URL of their choice. We can also place the game on Xsolla Mall as another way for developers to embrace a D2C distribution strategy.

There are other cloud gaming solutions out there. What makes Xsolla different?

First, Xsolla Cloud Gaming aligns with our core business of creating monetization opportunities for developers worldwide by offering white-label B2B opportunities for game developers. By collaborating with multiple cloud providers, we can help developers extend their reach and acquire new users. 

Xsolla provides a unique monetization model. Users only pay for playtime with virtual currency and rates based on locale, allowing them easier entry to games regardless of hardware capabilities and without purchasing the game up-front.

Finally, Xsolla is the one trusted partner developers can count on to do the heavy lifting when they are ready to earn revenue with a proven direct-to-consumer strategy.

What are the key features developers want to know about?

A: As always, Xsolla’s mission is to help developers take their games to the next level. Our Cloud Gaming Solution embraces that philosophy and provides partners with everything they need to succeed — from streaming abilities to branded websites, a hub for community engagement, advanced analytics, monetization options, and a metaframe backend service to manage user data and provide more payment options. 

With multiple monetization options, our partners can easily configure pricing based on play patterns and encourage them to play longer and return regularly by adjusting pricing based on region, time spent playing, and the game’s system requirements. This malleability makes Xsolla Cloud Gaming especially meaningful for developers who want to apply pricing models specific to their audience segments.

The solution’s most significant feature for developers is Xsolla’s long-term relationships with streaming technology and infrastructure partners worldwide, which makes it easy to integrate multiple streaming vendors in regions developers want to target. A broad choice of streaming vendors means our partners won’t have to worry about latency issues and can confidently provide the highest quality experience to gamers, regardless of where or when they choose to play.

Can Unity, Steam, or Unreal Engine use a solution?

Yes, any of the mentioned games can easily use Xsolla Cloud Gaming Solution. Developers and publishers will not need to port the game itself, they will need just go through a few steps:

Step 1: Meet the game requirements (LTS version or later.

Compatible with:

  1. Vulkan 1.2 standard, or
  2. OpenGL 3.x or 4.x standards, or
  3. Direct3D 9/11/12 and in line with the latest WINE/Proton standards.

Supports running on a third-party domain, behind the NAT (without static IP)

Step 2: Prepare a DRM-free game build

Step 3: Sign up for Publisher Account to get a merchant ID

Step 4: Complete the onboarding form

Step 5: You’re done! 

Does Xsolla provide Cloud Gaming marketing support?

Xsolla offers multiple marketing channels to promote cloud-based games, including Xsolla Partner Network and distribution through Xsolla Mall. Thanks to the combination of these powerful solutions, developers can save time, marketing budget, and resources dedicated to user acquisition. We offer 24/7 marketing support, including the added value of influencers and payment providers, to help drive traffic to our partners’ cloud-based games. 

Partner Network allows developers to create and manage performance-based programs for multiple types of channels — including influencers, affiliates, web portals, and more — with an easy-to-use, cost-effective tool. Mall is a new distribution channel for developers and publishers — a high-visibility online destination with traffic-driving advantages.

Can you share any demos or pilot projects demonstrating how the solution works?

I’m glad you asked about a demo! If your readers want to see Xsolla Cloud Gaming in action, they can contact one of our experts to arrange a demo.

Image credit: Xsolla

How does a game developer get started with Xsolla Cloud Gaming?

Building a cloud gaming platform from the ground up means overcoming many technical and logistical hurdles. That’s why we encourage developers to take advantage of Xsolla’s Cloud Gaming Solution - it’s an easy and streamlined way to launch and monetize cloud games. Moreover, as Xsolla expands its presence throughout Asia, we add more cloud gaming vendors. Your readers can regularly check our website for the countries we support. It’s a fantastic opportunity to reach a larger audience!

Your readers can learn more about the platform and even jump straight in with their cloud gaming project by visiting our website or connecting with one of our experts. We’re happy to answer questions and help businesses get started.

Neela Daas, Xsolla Program Director

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