Javier Polo is the CEO of cloud gaming company PlayGiga. With experience working with telecommunications companies, Polo was well placed to join this new company to help drive it forward.
It’s important that business people do good where they can while having the passion and dedication to keep driving forward. PlayGiga not only allows us access to all sorts of games but it opens up this technology to poorer families and those in developing countries. Read our interview with Polo below.
What’s your background?
My background is originally in engineering, but after gaining my MBA I quite quickly moved into consulting with companies to help them build their market strategies. For most of my career, I led the B2C marketing and sales at Orange Spain until the opportunity to create PlayGiga led me to where I am today.
How did you get involved with PlayGiga?
Playgiga was founded in late 2013 with the vision to use cloud technologies to make high-quality video games accessible to everyone. Obviously, at that stage Cloud computing was still relatively new, so it was quite a big technical challenge to overcome. I joined Playgiga in 2016 after the team had spent more than two years building the core technology. The board felt the company needed a CEO with a clear track record with product launches, digital services management and a strong record of commercialising new services.
Since joining, we’ve worked hard to productize the technology and build relationships with games publishers, and for the last six months, we’ve been working with various telcos and media companies to launch the finished service.
How did your experience with telcos translate to what you’re doing with PlayGiga?
I´d say that experience is very important. Working for a telco you learn about the challenges of launching digital services on a major scale. For instance, at Orange, amongst many others, I led the commercial launch of the OTT Pay TV service. There are multiple elements to manage; conceiving a roadmap, developing the product/service, marketing it, solving channel issues …. you can only learn from actually doing these things.
There is also the know-how you acquire about how telcos work from the inside that is also relevant for PlayGiga. We sell through telcos with a B2B2C strategy. In order to deal with these partners, it is very helpful to have the inside view, understanding how they market services and what challenges they face. For example, for a telco, simplicity and ease of integration is really important. Then there is the need to understand how your service fits into the overall telco business, so there is a clear benefit and value. Being able to speak their language is a huge advantage.
What opportunities does the PlayGiga platform bring to telecommunication and media companies?
The easiest way to understand what we do is to think of us as the Netflix of high-quality video games.
PlayGiga offers gaming as a service (GaaS). Using the same approach as software as a service (SaaS), GaaS is a model whereby consumers subscribe to a streaming service and can play games on a remote device – without needing an expensive gaming PC or console.
As with services like Spotify, Netflix, Apple Music, the games are hosted in the Cloud and streamed from there to people’s homes. It’s only recently that network infrastructure has become fast enough to support streaming games, and we have our own patented technology that solves the remaining issues.
We believe that, just with music and movies, consumers want the convenience of a curated service, with no need to buy expensive hardware. In 2016, global revenues from games topped $101 billion – that’s a lot more than the global revenues from music and movies combined.
A large portion of your staff is dedicated to R&D, why do you feel this is important?
R&D is essential to any technology start-up. The pace at which innovation can be created is really stunning. As an example, In The latency of our service – a key parameter when you are talking about cloud gaming, was 100 milliseconds in late 2015. This meant implications in customer experience and type of games that we could include in our catalogue.
By 2017 The latency has dropped to only 30 milliseconds, allowing for a much wider selection of titles covering all types of triple-A games. At the same time, the cost of the infrastructure our service requires has fallen by more than 50% thanks to innovation in the graphics card architecture we use.
Why is game streaming the next big thing?
There is a growing view within the games industry that the future will be based around streaming, subscription-based games services. Microsoft has recently announced a new gaming cloud division that will form the basis of its strategy beyond the Xbox console, and the CEO of EA, one of the world’s biggest games publishers, is on record saying that streaming plus subscription will be the great disruptor in gaming in the years to come.
How does this help less-well-off families and those in developing countries?
Streaming offers consumers all the convenience without any upfront costs. Buying a console or gaming PC and keeping it up to date, as well as the cost of controllers and the games themselves can be a big investment. Another problem unique to families is the issue of parental control; discovering suitable games and controlling access is an ever-present issue. For this segment, Cloud gaming is an obvious solution, as access can easily be controlled, and the high cost of ownership is reduced to a simple monthly subscription.
In developing countries, the cost of a games console or PC can be prohibitive, so the low cost of entry that streaming services can offer is a huge benefit. As this diagram shows, relative to the typical income, in India or Brazil, a PS4 can cost many times what it would in the US. That means there are millions of gamers that are not really being reached by the games industry as it currently exists.
At the same time, many of these countries have good internet penetration thanks to the efforts of the local and regional telcos. So there is both a benefit to consumers and a big opportunity for local telcos and media companies to launch streaming services.
How can technology companies do their part to improve the world we live in (helping communities/people/the environment etc.)?
I think technology companies play a very important role. Those start-ups that do not improve the world in some positive way tend to disappear pretty quickly.
Start-ups bring consumers the kinds of services that established companies cannot always develop from the start. Established companies often cannot take risks as they already have clients with established expectations, and that becomes a restriction in what they bring to the market. This is why it is more common to see breakthrough concepts and innovation brought to the market by start-ups, with established companies adopting them once the model has been proven.
What advice do you have to tech startup founders who want to do some good in this world?
It is about passion and vision. There is nothing like having a dream and making it a reality. This is what entrepreneurship is about.