Game Streaming technology is a fairly new concept; a game is loaded on a central server and the player accesses it through the internet basically with a video of that interaction being what is displayed on their screen. Game Streamer approaches this concept a little differently that others, as the streaming is service that they are providing for the player and not something the player is paying for. By treating the player like the owner of the product and not like it is something that can, or should, be taken from them Game Streamer may be here to stay.
At its core, the Game Streamer experience is an online store, not that different from Steam –there was even mention of weekly sales on games. When a game is purchased it can simply downloaded to a computer, not that much different from any other virtual store front. It is the other services after that when it becomes impressive.
The first major milestone is what is being called “progressive download”. This will allow players to start a game before it is entirely downloaded. Microsoft was experimenting with something like this with its movie service awhile ago, but those where linear experiences and not games. In practice this would mean that when the latest Call of Duty comes out for the PC instead of waiting for hours for gigs of the game to download it could be started up in mere minutes after just a couple hundred megs. This is planned to be launched with the browser, for certain games, when it comes out in late August or early September 2010.
But what would a something with “streamer” in the name be without the ability to stream games? Planned to launch later this year, after some various stress tests, is the streaming service. While not all games will be available at launch, it was stated several times during the demo that I received that the most popular games would be making their way onto the service first. This may only mean that the streaming system is only in place for a handful of games during the debut. It also highlights that it is more important that the experience is done right instead of having it all in place all at once.
Although one of the things that impressed me the most during the streaming demo was the discussion about how the game would adjust to the bandwidth of the user. Users with faster connections and who are closer to the streaming servers would be able to experience a game at a higher resolution than those with slower connections that live farther away. This is pretty much similar to how Netflix does its streaming service, kind of an active check on the users ping times, allowing the game to adjust the setting from peak traffic hours to prime usage during the course of play. Even during these times, the game can still be downloaded – something that sets Game Streamer apart from any other streaming service.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Game Stream is the cloud feature. Ideally, the company hopes to have the ability to take a save file from a downloaded version of the game, store it in a cloud, and make it playable when the game is streamed to another device – say a TV or iPad. Since some of the games would be streaming from a server that would make them playable on anything that could support the Java based streaming program, even Linux or Mac computers, nothing would really be out of the question.
Although all of this would mean nothing if the pricing was wrong; gladly it isn’t. Once a game is purchased, the player fully owns it. There are no fees for anything besides the one time purchase of the game, so a weekend trip to visit the in-laws suddenly becomes manageable with just their outdated computer and amazingly high speed internet. Since the entire service is really just a store to begin with, most companies aren’t going to have a problem selling their games there either. At the moment, there are roughly 2000 titles available for purchase at the store, which is up and running on the website minus the cool launch-able interface.
Because Game Streamer is approaching steaming technology in an entirely different manner than its competitors, mainly not charging a subscription fee with the additional fees of games on top of that, it stands a very good chance of sticking around. The choice to download the game to a PC for times when internet speeds are ideal is simply an amazing idea. The only real problem is getting people to buy from this store instead of another. Although the added perks of progress download, cloud, and streaming, Game Streamer is a welcomed supplier of PC games.
Learn more about Game Streamer HERE.