Rovio's Cloud Gaming Unit Expands To Android TV, Debuts First Original Game

Hatch, a cloud-based mobile gaming spin-off from Angry Birds maker Rovio, is expanding its entertainment platform to Android TV, the company announced Tuesday. The new milestone didn't emerge alone as today also marks the unveiling of Arkanoid Rising, a reboot of a classic arcade series from the last two decades of the 21st century that happens to be Hatch's first original game.

With the arrival of Android TV support, any set-top box or television set running Google's omnipresent operating system can be turned into a gaming console through the power of Hatch's cloud platform, allowing users to access games instantly and enjoy the entirety of their content without local installations and lengthy downloads. The entirety of the company's gaming library that already spans over 100 titles will be compatible with Android TV devices once the functionality goes live in the coming weeks. As is the case with the mobile version of the service, all games accessed through Hatch are free of in-app purchases and any other fees, with the ecosystem itself functioning as an on-demand, subscription-based gaming service that's essentially (striving to be) a Netflix for games.

Pick your preferred control scheme

As is the case with Chromecast-powered gaming, all Hatch games running on the television screen can be controlled via one's smartphone, whereas certain titles also support physical controllers. In practice, if a certain Android game works with gamepads on handsets and tablets, it will also have that same functionality in the context of the Hatch ecosystem and vice versa, though the Rovio-owned company is also working on enhancing the features of its game library independently, as it's always quick to point out.

Besides Arkanoid Rising, Hatch also debuted StoryToys, Dr. Panda, and Toca Boca as part of its aptly titled Hatch Kids service. Arkanoid Rising itself has been created in collaboration with TAITO, the same Japanese studio responsible for the original Arkanoid franchise. Hatch is showcasing an early build of the day at Slush 2018 conference which kicked off earlier today in Helsinki, Finland. The demo area is described as a place allowing for a "casual eSports" experience, though it's currently unclear whether Hatch has some concrete plans to attempt turning its platform exclusives into full-fledged competitive titles. While the basic gameplay loop of the original Arkanoid arcades remains unchanged in Arkanoid Rising, the competitive component of the game is much more adaptable as it leverages the full power of Hatch's systems in order to allow for real-time competitions across devices. Cross-platform play is another key selling point of the service and something Hatch will attempt leveraging in order to continue growing its ecosystem moving forward.

Hatch now moving to start making more serious money

While the base access tier remains free, supported by ads, Hatch is still working on a premium subscription and has just revealed some new details about the thereof. The paid tier will come with Hatch Kids, an ad-free ecosystem full of age-appropriate games and experiences aimed at entertainment and education. The initial version of the platform will include several dozen apps and continue expanding its portfolio shortly following its launch. The cloud gaming spin-off is presently aiming to launch Hatch Premium at some point in the first quarter of the year. However, seeing how even its basic service still isn't available in the majority of the world, it's unlikely that the paid tier will be coming to a large number of markets in the immediate future. Hatch is unsurprisingly looking to prioritize the world's most popular children's games and other apps on its road to continue growing its own library.

The incoming arrival of Hatch Premium and the content that accompanies it likely signals a turning point in the firm's strategy that's now seemingly being positioned to place a larger focus on monetization opportunities moving forward. While the mobile advertising industry continues breaking records on a quarterly basis, the gaming segment isn't a niche that pays particularly well for ad impressions on any platform. That state of affairs leaves Hatch with little options but to attempt breaking even through the introduction of a new paid tier to its service. The solution is currently available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Nordic countries, with its last expansion happening nearly a year ago. Consumers in eligible countries can download Hatch free of charge from the Google Play Store; besides the aforementioned markets, eleven other countries are also able to access the app, albeit in an early access phase.

While Hatch has always been vague about its expansion timeline, the firm was surprisingly inactive on that front over the course of this year and has instead focused on growing its game library and improving the infrastructure that fuels the entire ecosystem. Its long-term plan is to slowly build its audience and expand its portfolio of titles while essentially waiting for the fifth generation of mobile networks to become more widely available. Due to the massive improvements in latencies and capacities that upgrade will undoubtedly bring, a next-generation wireless infrastructure would certainly do wonders for the consistency of Hatch's platform. Regardless of that long-term goal, it remains to be seen whether Hatch will manage to stay operational long enough for its product to become a viable choice for consumers in more parts of the world; its parent has a less-than-stellar year behind it and has recently been cutting costs in a rather aggressive manner while watching its stock crumble mere months following its initial public offering in September of 2019.

Ultimately, those cost-cutting efforts also pose a danger to Hatch, though the large number of partnerships the company managed to accumulate and its ever-growing user base should keep it safe for the time being as Rovio is still primarily interested in improving efficiency among its traditional studios across Europe. Hatch is hence most likely to continue adding major titles to its on-demand gaming library while waiting for the technology to catch up with its business model that some industry watchers are still describing as a large gamble without a proven market.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]