12. Apex-Experience-7.1-Console Games

Image: Felipe Lira

APEX Insight: Is there a market for airlines to offer an in-flight gaming experience that matches that of consoles played at home? With IFE platforms able to offer better graphics, Miami-based GUE Tech already provides more than 200 console games to airlines.

The global video games industry is thriving; more than half of all American households now play regularly. With revenues in the worldwide market for video games projected to rise from $71.3 billion in 2015 to $90.1 billion – a growth rate four times that of the US movie industry, could now be the right time for airlines to adapt console-based games for players at 35,000 feet?

GUE Tech, a Miami-based company that offers more than 200 console games for in-flight entertainment (IFE) platforms, thinks the answer is a definite yes. “Many airlines are not very happy with their current IFE games, as the usage on board is very low in comparison to Hollywood movies,” says Jörg Schiffmann, GUE Tech’s manager of Sales and Marketing. “Meanwhile, IFE platforms are getting more advanced with better graphics and processor performance.”

Air Europa, the third-largest airline in Spain is a GUE Tech client. The company says its most popular IFE video game to date is Garfield Kart. Originally released on Nintendo 3DS, the title has been adapted by the company for Air Europa’s Panasonic eX3 system on board two Boeing 787s delivered in June 2016.

“IFE platforms are getting more advanced with better graphics and processor performance.” — Jörg Schiffmann, GUE Tech

During the first month of service, Garfield Kart was played nearly 5,000 times, while the most popular in-flight movie title, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was watched 16,000 times. Schiffmann says, “This clearly shows that passengers are attracted by popular video games adapted from console and mobile markets.”

Schiffmann believes IFE games should no longer be considered suitable only for kids. “Of course, kids games and casual games will always be a necessary part of the IFE games offering, but Tetris and sudoku can no longer be the standard.” But could current-generation console games make an appearance on IFE systems? According to GUE Tech, they already have. The company has adapted PS4 and Xbox One titles such as Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders.

The company’s priority, however, says Schiffmann, is to find the game version that works best on a particular IFE system. “For passengers, it is more important to have the best game experience on board than playing the latest game version.”

“Airlines Up Their Game” was originally published in the 7.1 February/March issue of APEX Experience magazine.

Ari is the news editor at APEX Media.