Ivan Lebeau is a gnawed veteran in the gaming industry, having worked for over 25 years in video games and technology development. Ivan founded Gamestream in 2015 with an ambition to create the most advanced global cloud video game solution for professional industries.
Here he talks about Gamestream and what it offers. Perhaps, the most illuminating things in the interview are two-fold. First, Gamestream’s rare business model of B2B2C in the gaming industry. Second, its proprietary technology that allows seamless game streaming at internet speeds as low as 4mbps.
He also explains Gamestream’s “magic recipe” of technology. Let’s jump straight to the interview.
Q. We usually begin our founder interviews with a stock question. Here it is: What motivated you to found Gamestream?
A. My key motivation in founding Gamestream was to democratise the joys of video game experiences. I see this as making console-quality gaming available for everyone, anywhere, at any time. Gamestream’s proprietary cloud gaming technology can thrive with relatively low internet speeds, meaning it has great applications in developing countries where expensive gaming hardware and connections aren’t always realistic.
Another strong motivation is to bring video games to the hospitality and healthcare fields. Inspired by the game Re-Mission, which has been shown to help young people navigate their cancer diagnoses and treatments, we at Gamestream firmly believe in the healing power of video games. As such, we work closely with partners such as BePlayer One, which aims to make gaming more inclusive for disabled people, and L’École des Héros, which helps teenagers overcome social anxiety through games. The Gamestream platform is also compatible with the main gamepad adapted for disabled people.
Q. What is the business model of Gamestream?
A. Gamestream is a world leader in cloud video game streaming solutions that provides console-quality gaming experiences on the devices that most people already own, including smartphones (iOS and Android), TV (OTT and Smart TV), PC, Mac and tablets.
We offer our partners a complete end-to-end cloud gaming service. While they are in charge of marketing, billing and hosting, Gamestream supplies our technology, our own highly cost-effective servers, and premium content – AA and AAA titles provided by leading video games publishers – as well as sophisticated data reporting. We help our partners reduce customer churn and increase average revenue per user by enhancing their market position and entertainment hubs.
Following the proven business models of Spotify and Netflix, Gamestream’s partners offer this cloud gaming service to their customers through an affordable multi-device subscription (usually approximately $10 per month). Our customers revert a percentage of this monthly revenue to Gamestream, which we in turn distribute a proportion of amongst the games publishers that populate our catalogue. Aside from this revenue share model, we also receive a non-recurring fee from our telecom partners to adapt, integrate and maintain our service on their network.
Gamestream’s service has been deployed under both white-labelled brands across Europe, the Middle East and Asia through partners in telecoms and hospitality. Examples of this include Telekom Slovenije’s NEO Gaming and Telkom Indonesia’s GameQoo. Customers can also choose to use our consumer brand, Pleio. With Pleio we offer the same proprietary tech and gaming experiences, but under a Gamestream brand which means we take on the community management of our customers’ users who sign up to the service. Bouygues Telecom, one of the largest telcos in France, has been using Pleio since its successful launch in late 2020.
Q. How is Gamestream different from other cloud gaming services e.g. XBOX Game Pass?
A. Unlike many other cloud gaming services which still rely on specialised gaming hardware or purchasing games individually, Gamestream offers console-quality experiences that are entirely cloud based. There are no additional downloads or purchases for our users, and no advertising. Our service is also available on the six main types of device – more than any other operator in the market.
We are one of only two companies in the cloud gaming space that provide a cloud platform with a games catalogue on a B2B2C basis. This means that we typically do not have a direct relationship with the end user – they tend to be customers of our industry partners.
Gamestream’s proprietary technology allows us to offer amazing gaming experiences using internet speeds as low as 4mbps – compared to the 10-15Mbps recommended by other cloud gaming platforms. Unlike other cloud gaming services, we reduce the burden of extra bandwidth usage on telcos by closely integrating with their server infrastructure. By integrating our servers in clients’ data centres, we can offer a much more cost-effective and profitable solution than other providers. It also means our service performs excellently in markets with less developed network infrastructure – but imagine also the incredible experiences we will be able to achieve with 4K, VR and AR as the 5G rollout gathers pace!
Q. In what ways do game publishers benefit from associating with the Gamestream platform?
A. Gamestream currently licenses games from more than 60 publishers including Disney, Capcom, Deep Silver, Codemasters, Focus Home Interactive and many others.
First of all, we provide a welcome additional income stream for them, with both brand new and popular legacy games being a good fit for our catalogue. We make this incredibly simple by porting a single version of their games onto our service and allowing users to play it on TV, Android & iOS Smartphones, PC, Mac, and Smart TV.
In addition, we open up exciting new markets for them. This includes emerging economies in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe – and soon India – as well as hospitality (starting with hotels, which is a brand new stream of revenue for games publishers).
Q. You have formed partnerships with several telecom operators. How important are these partnerships for Gamestream’s growth?
A. We started our white label deployments in 2019 with major telecom operators in Indonesia and Dubai, then in Taiwan, Europe (2020) and very soon in India.
These partnerships are a key part of our growth, providing ready-made access to millions of potential subscribers and existing marketing and billing infrastructure operated by the telcos themselves. The reach of our service will hit 80m potential users by the end of 2021 and 400m by the end of 2022 – how else could we reach so many potential subscribers so rapidly?
Secondly, launching in these markets helps us to better understand the local gaming trends. We add local games to our catalogue, and have a growing expertise on local usages as well as the best marketing strategies for user acquisition.
This global understanding of markets and user bases is allowing us to launch dedicated cloud services for video games publishers themselves. High-quality content is vital to creating successful cloud gaming services – so who better to launch them than the content creators themselves? Using Gamestream’s technology, developers can offer demos of their games in the cloud, or even start their own cloud gaming service to become media brands in their own right.
Q. Gamestream also caters to the hospitality industry, for instance hotels and cruise ships. How has the response of the hospitality industry been, especially during and the aftermath of Covid 19 pandemic?
A. Much of the hospitality industry has of course been negatively impacted by the Covid-19. However, with the wider growth in gaming we have seen throughout the pandemic, it has become even more pressing for hospitality providers to find ways to integrate gaming into their offer to customers.
We have a number of growing partnerships with innovative brands such as Accor, which requested that their cloud gaming services be reactivated immediately after reopening, and expect to cultivate more throughout 2021.
Q. What are the benefits and advantages a business – a hotel, hospital or a cruise ship – can gain from Gamestream?
A. Innovation is a key topic in the hospitality and tourism industries to recover from the global pandemic. We travel to escape, to socialise, to boost our wellbeing. Increasingly, people and families do this via the medium of games. Likewise, encouraging millennials and Gen X to choose a hotel or resort over an AirBnB means catering directly to them.
We’ve already seen brands such as Atari plan gaming-theme hotels. While it isn’t possible for most hospitality companies to tear up their business model and start again, it is very simple to integrate a world class cloud gaming offering for their customers. The upshot is retaining customers and attracting new ones, as well as boosting spend in communal areas.
At Gamestream we can do this for our global customers via data centres or local installation, meaning it’s possible for them to offer a cloud gaming service even without fibre optic broadband. We can integrate the service directly with Samsung, Phillips and a large selection of Android Smart TVs, or via a discreet plug-in where TVs have not recently been upgraded. As with telcos, there is no capital expenditure on the part of the hospitality brand.
As well as in-room we have seen great demand in communal areas such as lobbies and kids’ play areas. Our service is likewise perfect for resorts, holiday camps, cruise ships, ski areas – the list is limitless. We are also exploring how our service can be used to provide esports experiences in shared spaces.
Q. In which countries do you operate now? Any immediate plans of expansion?
A. Our cloud gaming service is available on three continents already. From France and Switzerland to Taiwan, Slovenia, Indonesia, the UAE and soon India, people are enjoying unlimited access to our catalogue.
In terms of expansion, we have tripled our revenue over the past year and are on our way to doubling the size of the organisation this year. We expect to continue growing our global customer base in telecoms, hospitality and healthcare – our cloud gaming service can be deployed rapidly in any territory!
Cloud gaming is the best use case for 5G, and you can expect to see us grow particularly in Asia and the Middle East where 5G is rolling out. According to Newzoo, the value of the cloud gaming market is on track to exceed the five-billion-dollar mark in 2023, demonstrating the sheer scale of opportunity available.
Q. Finally, could you share some insights into the technology on which Gamestream platform is built?
A. Gamestream’s magic recipe is a combination of tried and tested, industry-grade technology with a seamless modern interface, leading games catalogue and multi-device strategy.
What enables us to provide such a high-quality experience even on relatively slow connections is our ability to compress and scale graphics using a video compression standard called H265. We also go into the very code of the games in our catalogue to define the processing power they need and are incredibly agile at distributing server load. In essence, we use cloud technology to inject the processing power of the most powerful computers into the ordinary, everyday devices that people own.