Streaming is all the rage these days. Television streaming. Movie Streaming. Anime streaming. And now game streaming. A lot of companies are looking to invest in the tech even though it’s not quite as simple as the other forms of media when it comes to streaming distribution, but Amazon definitely has the money, the clout, and the infrastructure to pull it off, which is why the company is working on a game streaming service.
Deadline is reporting that Amazon is serious about the streaming service and that the company has been approaching and discussing the matter with other game publishers, which is going to be necessary if Amazon has any plans at all of getting off the ground with a sustainable library of software.
Licensing is just one piece of the puzzle, and one of the smaller hurdles to overcome. Getting games on a streaming service like Madden NFL or the EA Sports FIFA series isn’t hard if you front the right amount of money. Fleshing out the library with other popular franchises like Activision‘s first-person shooter series, Call of Duty, and Ubisoft‘s Assassin’s Creed also wouldn’t be too difficult, and we’ve seen other streaming services take a similar approach with fleshing out their libraries, such as OnLive.
The problem, however, comes with the infrastructure. Streaming services rely on fast tech and need lots of overhead horsepower to stream the games to the end-user. However, this usually only works for games that operate at 30fps, since you get a nice latency wiggle room of 33.3ms buffer times between frames. However, things get a little more complicated when you’re talking about higher-end games that run at faster frame-rates on higher hertz. If you have a 120Hz monitor playing a game like Mortal Kombat 11 or Street Fighter V, you’re going to want the game running at least at 60 frames per second, which means the frames have to buffer at 16 milliseconds, and you’ll need even shorter distances read input while the service buffers the game from Amazon‘s end to the end user.
Essentially, it’s a two-pronged problem: the servers have to be fast enough to support that kind of streaming (and Amazon‘s servers are definitely fast enough), and the end user’s connection has to have an upstream connection fast enough to make use of those servers.
According to Deadline, the outlet quotes Patrick Moorhead, an analyst from Moor Insights & Strategy, who told them that this kind of game streaming is a problem that suits Amazon well since the company has the AWS cloud services to deal with this sort of thing.
We’ve seen this kind of market posturing before, only for it all to come crashing down. There was Gaikai, which turned into PlayStation Now, and then there was GameFly, Playcast Media, and OnLive. But none of those really took off. There have been other smaller ventures that have popped up over time that are still ticking, and Google seems to be interested in the game streaming services as well.
Part of the problem is that many core gamers like playing games on their own time, and game-streaming is more-so oriented around playing on the company’s time and having all of your data and access controlled by said company. We’ll see how Amazon addresses this issue or what sort of games the company will focus on as the services draws closer to an official announcement and launch.