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Cloud gaming: mirage in the desert

作者: Leo LIU,Matt MA
时间: 2019年04月04日
重要性: 一般报告
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摘要: Report title:Cloud gaming: mirage in the desert
Analyst:Leo LIU,Matt MA
Report type:Industry
Date:20190403
[Summary]

■ Cloud gaming still has a long way to go, with high cost, unsatisfying gameplay and commercial difficulties being the biggest obstacles
■ 5G development/ free-to-play model can speed up the cloud gaming adoption, but content quality remains crucial
■ Bullish on internet leaders’ capability to develop cloud gaming

Cloud gaming is technically matured but economically still not ready
On March 19, Google officially launched a cloud gaming service at GDC called Stadia, which brought cloud gaming back to the center stage after 10 years of evolution. Despite all the hypes, we believe cloud gaming will only be a complimentary product for a long period of time, which can co-exist with the existing mainstream gaming platforms; but will not completely replace the current gaming solutions given: 1) cloud gaming’s high cost comparing to self-purchasing gaming devices; 2) unsatisfying gameplay experiences even under nowadays’ best network environment; and 3) difficulties in commercialization during the development process of cloud gaming ecosystem.
5
G development and F2P model help speed up cloud gaming adoption
We believe with the official commercialization and prevalence of 5G network, some difficulties in gameplay experiences (latency, insufficient network speed, and network instability) can be partially solved. But as long as mobile Internet packages still only offer limited data usage, high data cost will remain as the major obstacle for 5G application in cloud gaming. On the other hand, payment mode transformation from buyout model to F2P model in China will help to partially solve the commercial difficulties. However, the lack of content portfolios at initial development stage would remain as a primary obstacle in commercialization for cloud gaming platforms.

Innovative and quality content remain paramount for online gaming
China’s gaming companies are encountering many development difficulties, such as diminishing demographic dividend, tightening regulations, and depleting PC game IPs. Under this environment, we believe the ability to produce innovative and high-quality gaming contents will become the most important advantage for gaming companies. As a relatively new gaming platform, mobile phone still has much potential to be exploited. In contrast, the demand for cloud gaming will still be sidelined.

Bullish on internet leaders’ capability to develop cloud gaming
We remain cautious on the ST prospects of cloud gaming, but recognize that the territory will be a key battleground for both gaming and cloud service companies to look for incremental growth in the next few years. We believe Tencent (700 HK; BUY; TP HK$423) and Kingsoft (3888 HK; BUY; TP HK$25) are standing at better positions, with understandings and advantages in both online gaming and cloud computing. We also like NetEase (NTES US; BUY; TP US$302) for its consistent capability to produce high-quality games. For Alibaba (BABA US; BUY; TP US$205), we believe its strength in cloud computing technology would help the company to occupy a corner as well. Key risks: 1) breakthrough in gaming hardware; 2) long lasting high cost on 5G network.

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