When it became clear a couple of years ago that 3D television wasn’t going to pan out for Sony, Panasonic, and the other television manufacturers watching their businesses wither due to an indifferent consumer base, they started to switch focus from tech to content. Smart TVs, with access to streaming video like Netflix, social networking tools like Facebook, and other connected content built into the television without needing a set top box at all, would renew industry vigor. Video games have naturally been a part of this plan. Korea’s LG opened its own video game network, Game World, on its Smart TVs on Monday. LG’s hope is that the service will even get people buying those pesky 3D televisions it invested so heavily in developing.
“Game World is a wonderful source of games—especially 3D games—which are suitable for everyone,” LG president Havia Kwon told Venture Beat, “Many popular titles will be available along with games developed exclusively for LG Cinema 3D Smart TVs. By making the most of LG 3D TVs, Game Wolrd will allow us to push the boundaries of 3D gaming and expand the market.”
That market expansion is the real juice LG is looking to squeeze in introducing the Game World service to its consumers. It’s aggressively pursued the Smart TV market looking to maintain its second place standing in the world television market. LG trails Samsung with a 13 percent share of the global market. Partnerships with Google to develop early Google TV-equipped televisions and set top boxes failed to help LG grow.
Game World is promising but right now it doesn’t have much to distinguish itself from existing digital gaming retailers like Apple’s iTunes or Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Electronic Arts properties like Plants vs. Zombies and Chilingo’s Cut the Rope are front and center on Game World, but those games can be purchased on anything. Right now Game World is little more than added value for LG’s televisions, not a draw in and of itself.
Services like Game World are only going to proliferate. Rovio is already supporting the world’s leading television manufacturer, Samsung, with its games including a motion controlled version of Angry Birds. Since casual games will be ubiquitous in most televisions, the real question is how that will impact console makers reliant on televisions being game free. Why would anyone buy Plants vs. Zombies on their PlayStation 4 if it’s already in their Samsung TV. Why would people buy an Ouya when Android games are already built into Google TV-ready LG TVs?