Making mobile gaming less terrible: Is it time for Samsung Arcade?

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Samsung’s content bets have grown pretty substantially in recent years. From filmmaking classes and BTS music videos to big-budget ads for fairly abstract fields like big data, it’s clear the Korean company understands the value of high-quality content. Following that train of thought, there’s still one content genre it hasn’t quite nailed down just yet – video games. Or mobile games, to be more specific.

Right now, Samung’s efforts in the mobile gaming arena are mostly concentrated on niche eSports sponsorships and the occasional Galaxy Store promotion. Meanwhile, over on the other end of the world, Apple’s been topping global gaming revenues. Without making a single game, mind you.

Based on the numbers released during the recent Apple-Epic trial over microtransactions, Apple generated roughly $8.5 billion in gaming revenues for 2019 alone. That’s more than what Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Activision Blizzard pulled that year combined, TWSJ estimates. By this metric, Samsung’s mobile rival is the world’s largest gaming company – despite never making a single game.

What content play makes more sense than Samsung Arcade?

It goes without saying that Samsung doesn’t have the advantage of an exclusive app ecosystem to leverage. But it certainly doesn’t need one to kickstart an Arcade-like service. In many ways, the various Galaxy Store promotions offering exclusive digital goodies like Fortnite skins and discounts prove the company already has enough business relationships to rely on for populating such a hypothetical service with content. Because at the end of the day, content is what this is all about.

As things stand right now, the Galaxy Store is most useful to Samsung as extra leverage in large-scale dealings with Google. It’s the threat of it ever becoming anything substantial that keeps Mountain View on its toes. At least compared to its everyday contents. Back in early summer, we heard of Google’s supposed attempts at illegally gutting the Galaxy Store. That’s not the sort of move you risk if you aren’t at least a little bit worried about the alternatives.

From Samsung’s perspective, doubling down on content is starting to seem like the only smart play in the near-term. Global device sales are slowing down. Chip shortages are weighing down its existing production capacity. Chinese brands are doing the same to its profit margins. If there ever was a time for a historic content push, that time is now. Content, after all, is one thing that can’t easily be copied and regurgitated overnight. It’s also an alternative, unique avenue for strengthening brand loyalty.

And content is perhaps the last arena in which Samsung still isn’t fulfilling its potential. Not if you look at the massive gap between the quality of its marketing and on-demand services such as streaming and gaming. Is launching a platform like Samsung Arcade the only play here? No, but it definitely seems like the most obvious move, given the state of the mobile industry, on the whole. Or rather, given the fact how mobile gaming is still pretty terrible for the level of technology that powers it.

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