Electronic Arts have announced the acquisition of cloud gaming technology, employees, and assets from GameFly’s games-on-demand streaming subsidiary.
Acquisition of this technology indicates a shift away from physical consoles and console cycles and a move towards cloud based streaming via a subscription.
GameFly’s streaming subsidiary, PlayCast Media, launched in 2009 providing a games-on-demand service to players televisions, in particular using the Amazon Fire TV streaming box. At launch it promised “PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 quality games on demand” and in 2015 merged to become part of GameFly, the online videogame rental service. As part of this service, GameFly has continued to offer game streaming, including many EA titles such as FIFA 18 and Battlefield 1. FIFA in particular has long been a stalwart of the GameFly service, and may continue to be a pillar of EA’s new streaming service going forward.
GameFly’s competitors, Gaikai and OnLive were both subsumed by PlayStation to help form the streaming service PlayStation Now and Microsoft is working on a similar service for Xbox, however this is the first time an publisher has made a commitment like this to an independent games-on-demand service.
In a statement, EA Chief Technology Officer Ken Moss said “Cloud gaming is an exciting frontier that will help us to give even more players the ability to experience games on any device from anywhere”.
This acquisition may mean that, similar to Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and others, the next generation of gaming may occur outside of current or future console generations. EA may be able to offer their games as a subscription streaming service instead of being tied to Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo’s hardware.
“This is massive,” Green Man Gaming CEO Paul Sulyok said of the acquisition, “it is the first time a big publisher has taken a step towards divesting physical consoles of their games and moving into a non-hardware based streaming market instead.”
Concerns regarding latency when playing games via streaming have cropped up in the past, especially in regard to fast paced multiplayer shooters, such as future entrants in the Battlefield series. Much research has been undertaken into improving latency across streaming services, with companies such as LiquidSky offering specific low-latency streaming solutions. It is yet to be seen if issues with latency and games-on-demand services can be eliminated or circumvented, as even the investment put into PlayStation Now by Sony has yet to produce a service devoid of latency.
We have reached out to PlayStation for comment on the move by EA to diversify into streaming services, but have yet to receive a response. We will continue to monitor and report on this story, and as always your first place for gaming news and industry insight is our Green Man Gaming Newsroom.
Update: This news comes on the wake of news that the Blacknut personalised game streaming service will launch on Amazon Fire TVs as well as the Amazon Appstore. “We are thrilled to showcase an accessible gaming solution alongside Amazon’s top entertainment services and continue to advocate for the art of games,” said Olivier Avaro, CEO and founder of Blacknut. “We’ve already been working with AWS and we’re excited to take our relationship with Amazon to the next level.”