GamesBeat: And that’s how this can become a platform for influencers.
Jutila: Absolutely. These are features we’ve enabled for cloud gaming that wouldn’t have been possible with other models we have today.
Honkala: I used to play a lot of games with my friends and family when I was younger, but that really hasn’t happened that much in the mobile era. We see that people play more games than ever these days, but they’re playing alone. I feel like it’s important that gaming can be a medium for human interaction. If you can do something with your family or your kids, for example – when you’re traveling, you can have some meaningful interaction with your kids.
Everything is 100 percent synchronized – all the player inputs, all the audio. You can be in the same room and have the audio on with every device. It’s possible to play together in the same space, like a party mode. It gives us new opportunities to play together.
GamesBeat: Going back to the technology a little bit, the early cloud gaming companies like OnLive would render everything in the cloud and stream video down to players. They tried to do that at 60 frames per second and generally failed. It seemed like a good idea that needed more bandwidth at the time.
Honkala: Lots of investment has gone into companies trying to make cloud gaming, streaming games a possibility, but all of these companies chose video-based streaming as the basis of their service. That causes very fundamental problems. The latency of the architecture is very long. You have to render the game first on the server side, compress that into video, and deliver that to the end user in some way that requires a lot of bandwidth. Then you need to decompress the video and render it on the terminal. There are many steps, and all those steps introduce extra latency to the experience. Even with the best connections and best hardware, it’s still not very practical.
We chose a completely new approach for streaming. Instead of streaming video, we’re streaming rendering commands. What that means is the streaming is very low latency. We can already start rendering the frame on the user’s device while the server is working on the same frame. There are no extra steps, no video compression. You don’t need to have expensive cloud hardware handling video compression.
GamesBeat: You’re using the computing that’s on the mobile phone.
Honkala: Right. It works on a mobile phone over a 4G connection, although 5G is optimal of course. Unlike the video-based streaming services, we are the only ones that can do this on mobile and the only ones that can do this at 60 frames per second.
GamesBeat: You have some other interesting features coming from this basic capability, like playable ads.
Jutila: Right. I already showed you some of the social features, which we think will be very exciting for users. If you think about mobile games today, it’s hard to share the fun with your friends, share the best moments in your games. We make that very simple and intuitive.
Any time you play a game on Hatch, we’re always basically recording the last 30 seconds of your gameplay in the background, without you needing to initiate that. Whenever you do something fun – beat a boss, pass a level – you can hit the share video feature and access the last 30 seconds of your gameplay. We have a set of editing tools so you can crop, trim, add comments, and then share that stream on Hatch. As I showed you earlier, then you can further share it to Facebook or any other social media. We feel like enabling this social behavior, making it very easy for people, can trigger a new way of playing games, making it much more of a shared experience.
These social features, from the beginning, have been at the core of our design process. We also believe that the more fun the experience, the more shared these features will become between your friends and the people in your network of fellow gamers, and the more widely the service will spread. We believe this process can unleash a lot of excitement when we let people come together and play the games they love.
GamesBeat: There are other companies out there, like 1App, which has a similar approach of using cloud-streaming technology to do ads for games. They just share a link. Someone can share that link on Twitter, and then that goes straight into a gaming experience, an instantly playable game. They’re using the cloud for that. But they’re doing something different in that they don’t have an app the way you do. You have more potential possibilities since people have a way to get back to your experiences.
Honkala: It’s quite different. Playable ads don’t usually have the performance for great games. You can toy with it a bit, but it doesn’t give you the framerate or the experience that you really need. For us, everything happens in one application, inside Hatch. There are no extra downloads, nothing you need to install on top. It’s very easy to use, and that enables us to do some very clever things that weren’t possible before.
Thinking about multiplayer games and matchmaking, we can do matchmaking automatically. They don’t need to be in a certain game. They don’t need to wait in a lobby. We just know that these users are available to Hatch and we can send them notifications when a game session starts. They can respond and get in the game. It’s a completely different story.
Let’s say I want to play a game with Vesa that he doesn’t have. First I need to call him or somehow send him a message. Then he has to download the game, install it, and go inside to the lobby and wait for me. With Hatch I don’t need any of that. I can just start the game. Vesa doesn’t need to install the game. It doesn’t matter if he’s ever played before. He doesn’t need to wait. We believe this will make social gameplay in mobile very different, because all of these obstacles are going away.
GamesBeat: You have 50 partners here, other game companies, and 90 games. You’ve been successful so far at recruiting companies to join Hatch.
Jutila: We started to reach out to prospective content partners almost exactly one year ago. We’ve been having so many great meetings and discussions. It’s amazing to see how positive the response has been. It’s been a great starting point. We haven’t gotten everyone on board yet, but everyone we’ve met has given us positive feedback and encouragement in our mission.