Amazon is set to make a big push into first-party video games, with two major titles from its own internal studios primed to launch next month. But that could just be the beginning, as the company's Project Tempo — a cloud-gaming platform in the vein of Google Stadia — may arrive by 2021.
In an interview with The New York Times (via
TechRadar), Amazon vice president for game services and studios Mike Frazzini dished on online shooter Crucible and massively multiplayer game New World, both of which are set to arrive in May 2020. But what's potentially more interesting is the article's brief mention of Project Tempo, which the Times says was supposed to launch in beta this year but now may be delayed to 2021 due to coronavirus issues.
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There aren't many details on how Project Tempo could work, but if any company has the cloud infrastructure and streaming experience to take on Google's gaming platform, it's Amazon.
The Seattle ecommerce giant owns livestreaming platform Twitch, and in the Times interview, Frazzini makes mentions of the company's plans to deliver games that allow viewers to jump into the action with their favorite streamers right from their web browsers. That sounds a lot like Google Stadia's upcoming Crowd Play feature, and could tie into Tempo's larger strategy.
“We love this idea that you have a player, a streamer and a viewer all sharing in this synchronous interactive environment of Twitch,” Frazzini told The New York Times.
Where Amazon can beat Google in gaming
Google Stadia launched in late 2019 to a very lukewarm reception. In our Google Stadia review, we praised the platform's overall streaming performance and wide compatibility with various peripherals, but found that its game lineup and feature set were incredibly thin at launch.
There's also the questionable pricing model. If you want to access Google Stadia right now, you have to purchase a $129 Premium Edition kit that includes a Google Chromecast Ultra and a controller, as well as pay for Google's $10 monthly Stadia Pro subscription to keep your access after your first three months.
Stadia Pro includes a handful of games, such as Destiny 2 and Grid, but isn't an all-encompassing solution like Netflix. You'll still have to buy titles such as Doom Eternal and Red Dead Redemption 2 for a full retail price of $59.99. With Google yet to release Stadia's free tier, the service isn't exactly a compelling value for many gamers, even if it can run on most smartphones, PCs and tablets.
With Project Tempo, Amazon has a chance to succeed where Google has yet to. The company already offers a monthly gaming subscription called Twitch Prime, which comes as part of your Amazon Prime account for $119 per year or $12.99 per month. Twitch Prime provides access to free games, complementary in-game content and free monthly channel subscriptions you can use to support your favorite streamers.
If Amazon were to fold Project Tempo into this service and give Twitch Prime members an instant collection of high-quality games to stream from the cloud, it could offer one heck of a value — and drive even more Amazon Prime subscriptions. Amazon Prime already gets you a library of on-demand streaming shows and movies via Prime Video, so a collection of streamable games could be a logical next step.
We likely won't see Amazon's vision for cloud gaming until 2021, and Google has plenty of time to improve on Stadia with new games and features. But in the nascent game streaming arena — which is also seeing growing investment from the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nvidia — Amazon has a chance to take the crown.