Amazon Planning a Game-Streaming Service (Report)

Microsoft has done it; Sony has done it; EA has done it; Nvidia has done it; even Google has done it. Now, Amazon may want to start its very own game-streaming service, too.

A recent report suggests that Amazon is prepared to enter the nascent "stream big-budget games via the cloud" market, and may be ready to debut the service as early as 2020.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Information reported on the issue, citing briefings from two unnamed contacts. Whether the service will actually come to fruition is anyone's guess, but assuming The Information's coverage is accurate, it's hardly an unprecedented move for the online retail giant. Amazon has plenty of experience streaming video and music, and it has a bigger presence in gaming than you might expect.

First off, Amazon's service would probably be something along the lines of Google's Project Stream. Amazon would contract major game publishers to host their titles on powerful Amazon servers. Amazon could then stream these titles directly to subscribers, using hardware they already own, such as Amazon Fire TVs. In theory, this would allow customers to play big-budget games without having to invest in an expensive console or PC. All they would need is an Internet connection (admittedly, a very powerful one).

Naturally, this setup has a lot of potential advantages for consumers. It leverages technology they may already own, rather than forcing them to buy devices that cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. Furthermore, it often lets them stream a whole selection of games for a fixed price, rather than buying one $60 game at a time. (Some services, like Nvidia GeForce Now, do still offer à la carte purchases, though.)

Gaming is not unprecedented on Amazon devices, either. The Fire TV, when it first launched, made a big push for gaming, going so far as to have some exclusive titles developed for it. They weren't that good, granted, but the Fire TV still has a surprisingly big library of core games, including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Telltale's The Walking Dead. The Amazon Bluetooth controller is also not bad at all, as these things go.

However, more recent Fire TV devices tend to come with paltry hard drives (5GB or less), so gaming on them has become much more difficult beyond the casual sphere. A streaming service would obviate the need for storage space, since everything is rendered remotely; all you'd need is a strong broadband connection and a modest amount of cache space.

Beyond that, would Amazon sell games individually, bundle them as a subscription, or include them with its ubiquitous Amazon Prime membership? It's experimented with all of these options in its movie and music stores, so we'll have to wait and see. The Information believes that the service could launch sometime next year, and if that's true, we may hear more about it soon.