I am constantly on the prowl for the next big platform here at Playtika. One of our biggest strengths is our spread across a diverse list of platforms. We are currently live on 4 mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows Phone) and 8 web based ones including Facebook, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Mobage, Odnoklasniki and more. We have been live on Windows Phone for over a year and we are very happy on almost all fronts except the fact that its lacking scale. In terms of in-game KPI’s I can say that its one of our best performing platforms.
Although we are very happy with the results of Windows Phone, Microsoft is pretty much a non-relevant actor when it comes to the global the app economy. It missed the mobile boat a long time ago to Apple and Google and some have even predicted their inevitable global decline as a result. I believe that Microsoft’s influence on the app economy is about to change and Windows 10 is how they are going to change it.
No one really loves talking about PCs anymore, it’s all about mobile mobile mobile. Though PC growth is no where close to mobile growth, PCs are far from dead and are not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. We (those in the mobile industry) tend to forget or ignore that there are an estimated 1.8-2.0 billion PCs on the global market and that Microsoft still owns over a 90% percent of that market.
In comes Windows 10…
Windows 10 will be the first operating system that will power PCs, Tablets, and Phones as a universal OS. There has been allot of coverage about Windows 10 over the last few weeks but I’m focusing today only on the Universal App store feature of Windows 10 because I think it has the greatest potential from the gaming markets perspective.
The vision as it has been laid out by Microsoft is simple and powerful. Every PC that will install Windows 10 (which they will be giving away for free to existing users) will include a native app store right on the desktop. Since Windows owns over 90% of the global market, the potential for Microsoft to become an app distributor is immense.
Imagine being able to download a native app like Slotomania, Candy Crush, Instagram, or any other app that is on the Windows app Store. It seems trivial but the reality is that this can open up a whole new world for developers and give them direct access to ~2.0 Billion PC users that currently don’t really engage Microsoft as an “app supplier/distributor”. Just the fact that Microsoft owns the real estate on PC screens gives it a big competitive advantage that neither Google nor Apple can rival in a substantial manner.
Apple and Google have already done some of the work for Microsoft and have “educated consumers” to download apps from app stores. It seems only logical to me that it will come very naturally to users to engage an app store on the PC. The potential would multiply were Microsoft able to convince (or even mandate) that users to enter their credit card info for future in-app purchases. Of course this is a potential game changer not just for the games industry but for the downloadable software industry as a whole.
Microsoft has many challenges ahead of them to make this a reality, including convincing developers to develop apps for the Windows App Store and convincing end users to upgrade to Windows 10 – but from what I’m seeing Microsoft has its Mojo back and selling the potential of a new distribution channel on PC with a 1.8 Billion user base will be easier than doing so for Windows Phone. We will soon be downloading apps to our PC from the Windows Store and will be thinking “Why the hell didn’t they do this earlier?”