Service Provider Cloud

5G cloud gaming proponent Hatch throws in the towel

Hatch – a subsidiary within Angry Birds gaming company Rovio – closed its game streaming service at the end of 2020. The development is noteworthy considering Hatch was an early and vocal proponent of 5G-powered applications and teamed with operators including Vodafone in Germany and Sprint in the US to sell its services in support of nascent 5G networks.

"Hatch service closed on December 31, 2020," the company announced on its website. "Thank you very much for using Hatch!"

Hatch sought to make a splash at the 2019 MWC trade show in Barcelona, Spain, with video game services that could make use of the speed and low latency supported by early 5G networks. The company's application provided on-demand access to popular mobile games like Monument Valley and Hitman GO alongside games developed by the company itself.

Over the course of 2019, Hatch managed to sign a number of promotional agreements with Sprint (prior to its merger with T-Mobile), Vodafone and others to offer customers a few months of free access to its offering. Importantly, the promotions often focused on operators' new 5G networks as ideal for a cloud gaming service like that from Hatch.

“We are excited to deepen our partnership with Hatch, whose accessible cloud gaming service is a great fit with the latest Galaxy devices built for speed on newly upgraded mobile networks,” said Samsung's Mark Notton in a 2019 release touting the 5G smartphone vendor's promotional deal with Hatch in Europe.

However, Hatch made sure that its offering wasn't exclusive to 5G, given the relatively minuscule number of customers in 2019 who both had 5G devices and access to 5G networks. "Although designed and optimized for ultra-low-latency 5G networks, Hatch also works well over Wi-Fi and good 4G connections," the company noted.

Thus, it's likely that Hatch's shuttering had more to do with its difficulty in getting customers to cough up money for its paid service – which competed with other offerings like Apple Arcade – rather than its 5G marketing efforts.

Analysts still believe the cloud gaming market is set for growth. For example, research and consulting firm Omdia recently predicted the space will grow to $12 billion in revenues by 2025. Omdia and Light Reading are owned by the same parent company, Informa.

Those expectations are based on new services pushed by Internet behemoths like Google (Stadia), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nvidia (GeForce Now). Such companies don't just offer a handful of mobile games – as Hatch did – but instead dozens of high-end computer games like Halo. Importantly, these services also promise to allow 5G phone users and others the ability to play high-powered games that normally would be restricted to more powerful devices like desktop computers or gaming consoles. Hatch's service, meantime, mainly focused on mobile games that were already widely accessible on most phones, albeit via individual, paid downloads.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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