The next major war among fans of video games will not be fought through little plastic boxes but will take place in the clouds. All of the familiar names in the gaming industry are about to be joined by new ones like Google and now even Amazon is preparing to jump into the market with their own games streaming platform.
This new service will not launch until sometime in 2020 according to a source familiar with the project. Amazon is spending the time until then arranging deals with notable video game developers and publishers to provide titles for streaming. As of this writing it is not clear if Amazon will pursue a subscription plan or if users will be able to purchase video games and stream them in the same manner current Amazon customers can stream their music, movie and television shows purchased from the site.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at the thought of Amazon entering the home video games market but you may want to reconsider doing that. While it is true that Amazon is not a huge name in the AAA video game space the company has a massive presence on the internet – especially in cloud computing. In fact, Amazon currently enjoys the largest share of the cloud computing market as of November 2018. Amazon’s market share in that industry is larger than those of Microsoft, Google, IBM and Alibaba combined. In years past they have acquired Double Helix – the original developers of Killer Instinct on Xbox One and are now the owners of that game’s amazing net code. Amazon also owns the Lumberyard game development engine which it offers for free to indie developers. They certainly have the resources to negotiate with external developers even if they are lacking internal studios.
The possibility of game streaming is enticing to companies who who were put off by the extremely high cost of console development. At the same time, companies who have been in the AAA game business for a while now are also beginning to embrace the concept of streaming. Sony is expanding the existing PlayStation Now service to put Sony’s game on “any device” while Microsoft is preparing to launch its own xCloud service. This writer has played Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Google’s Project Stream which will probably launch later this year and even EA is hard at work at on a cloud service known as Project Atlas. Expect even more companies to throw their hat into the ring. While the concept of a video game console will remain viable for the foreseeable future it is safe to say that the cloud will be an essential component for competing in the video games industry.