A former Rovio exec has formed a new firm that hopes to revolutionise the way mobile games are played with Hatch, a new cloud-based streaming platform for smartphones.
Unveiled during this week's Slush Festival in Finland, the venture is headed up by CEO Juhani Honkala, previously SVP of Rovio Entertainment, and centres around an instant game collection that players will be able to access without the need for downloads, installations or updates.
The service is planned for soft launch on Android in 2017, with iOS and other platforms to follow. There will be around 100 games available at launch, with Honkala promising Slush attendees that users can "start playing any game as easily as watching a movie on Netflix". The cloud-based server technology has been run in partnership with Huawei Technologies.
Major partners already on board range from Bandai Namco, Taito and Ubisoft to notable independent developers such as Ustwo Games and Double Fine Productions. Titles already on the way will include Badland, Broken Age, Cut The Rope 2, Leo's Fortune, Monument Valley, Pac-Man CE DX, Rayman Fiesta Run, République, Space Invaders Infinity Gene and more.
"I'd like to invite you all to be part of this journey," Honkala said, addressing the developers in the audience, before giving an overview of Hatch's new business model.
Honkala's firm will handle the monetisation of games on Hatch so developers can focus on the creation process without having to think about how to get users spending. Games will be monetised with "integrated, unobtrusive advertising and brand storytelling, as well as optional paid subscription that unlocks additional features and content", according to the official release. There will be no in-app purchases, with Hatch's library focusing on "full-featured, premium experiences".
The service will also eventually feature exclusive games known as Hatch Originals, for which Honkala and his team are currently seeking investors.
The CEO pointed to how Spotify and Netflix has changed how people enjoy music and movies respectively, as well as how the rise of YouTube, Instagram and easily-shared content has "created a completely new generation of superstars".
"There hasn't been that kind of disruption in the mobile gaming industry," he said. "We are playing mobile games exactly the same way as we used to play them five years ago. There has been no real innovation."
In addition to its role as a games-streaming platform, Hatch's built-in social functionality is designed to get more players connecting. Users will be able to rewind their gameplay and select video clips that can instantly be shared via Hatch or more established social media platforms.
There will also be multiplayer capabilities, and not just in the way you might expect. Recalling his childhood of playing single-player games together with friends and family, Honkala said Hatch will allow users to work together on titles such as Cut The Rope - even if they're in different locations. Connected players will be able to share the game's controls and chat about their next move or strategy.
"It's not only about gaming," he said. "It's a new way to spend quality time with the people you love."
He added: "The mobile has become the major gaming platform on the planet and mobile games bring joy to millions and millions of people around the world. But somehow I feel something very important got lost in the process.
"The numbers show that yes, we are playing more than ever but we are not really communicating, we are not sharing and we are not really playing together any more. When was the last time you really played together with your friends and family?"
The introduction of Netflix-style subscriptions is one experts have been predicting, with App Annie's CMO Al Campa recently telling GamesIndustry.biz he expects to see the model break into the mobile games space soon. While game-streaming has previously been tried - most notably in the form of troubled service OnLive and Sony's PlayStation Now - the complexities and high production of console-style titles has made it difficult for this concept to take off. The relative simplicity, at least in terms of file size and so on, of mobile games means Hatch could stand a good chance of delivering the cloud-based service the industry has been striving for over the past five years.