An increasing number of companies are trying their hand at game streaming services, which remains a niche sector but could one day be huge. Sometime soon, we may be able to count Amazon among them. That's because the world's largest online retailer is reportedly developing a game streaming service to rival those that are offered by Sony (PlayStation Now), NVIDIA (GeForce Now), and others.
In a sense, Amazon is already in the game streaming space. The company acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million and has since incorporated it into its Prime member subscription. Amazon Prime subscribers who own a Twitch account are eligible to receive a free game every month, which is yet another nice perk to what was once primarily a free two-day shipping subscription.
Prime members also receive some in-game perks. What Amazon is said to be working on is something different, though, and bigger. This may have been what Amazon had in mind all along when it acquired Twitch, and then later purchased GameSparks, a cloud outfit in the UK that builds and deploys gaming backends.
The juicy details of Amazon's endeavor are hidden behind a paywall at The Information, but according to TechCrunch, which read the article, sources tell the site that Amazon is already in discussions with game publishers to stream their titles on the upcoming platform. This is not way far off, either—the sources say Amazon will launch its game streaming service next year.
Gaming in the cloud has not exactly exploded in popularity just yet, but the timing is interesting. Broadband continues to reach more people, speeds are getting faster and cheaper, and we are on the cusp of 5G connectivity in the wireless space.
Amazon in particular is well positioned to tap into this space, both because of its vast resources and also due to its numerous streaming efforts to date. For example, Prime members can stream music and video from Amazon. Gaming is the next logical frontier.
It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Ideally, Amazon would create a Netflix-style service, where users could pay a monthly fee (or have it included with Prime) to access a bunch of games. There are various challenges with that, of course, not the least of which is getting a wide range of developers and publishers on board, and then being able to offer the service at a reasonable rate.