On Tuesday, American video game rental company GameFly launched a cloud-based game streaming service exclusively on the Amazon Fire TV set-top box. The new subscription service, simply called GameFly Streaming, piggybacks on the technology and servers used by Playcast, an Israeli cloud gaming service that GameFly has officially acquired as of today.
“Our goal with GameFly Streaming is to move forward to position cloud gaming as a compliment to console gaming in the short and medium term and as the new technology in the long term,” said GameFly CEO David Hodess in a telephone interview. with Ars Technica. “No one I speak to today believes there will be another set of consoles as successors to the current one.”
The service, which should already be live on the Amazon Fire TV App Store, is made up entirely of PC ports of console games, meaning players will need a compatible Xbox-style controller (such as the official Amazon Fire TV controller) to play. to play them. To access the service’s launch library of 35 games, users must try out an unorthodox subscription model: a series of game “packs” that users must subscribe to individually.
Pack it up, pack it up
Packs start at a rate of $6.99 per month, and each pack currently unlocks unlimited play of seven games in a given genre. For example, the “Lego” pack contains seven Lego-branded games, almost all of the most recent, including Lego: The Hobbit And Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham-while the “speed” pack contains six admittedly older racing games such as SCHEDULE 2, MotoGP ’13And Ridge Racer limitlessalong with the 2001 arcade flying game Ace battle 4. The “gamer” package is the closest thing to GameFly Streaming as a discounted bundle, with 16 games in the library for $9.99 per month. The full list of games and packs is available on GameFly Streaming’s official site.
This pricing structure differs from streaming services such as PlayStation Now, which offers both a flat rate for access to most of its streamable games and à la carte prices for renting a single game, and Nvidia Grid, which offers free service until July, but limited its access to users of Nvidia’s family of Shield devices.
“We have plans to renew these packs over the course of a year,” Hodess said, but he didn’t clarify exactly how often customers should expect new games — or how often older games can be discontinued in a pack. “If you’re still interested in a particular genre, hopefully we’ll provide enough games to keep you interested. Otherwise, we hope there’s another package you’re interested in.”
GameFly Streaming’s launch library leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared to Nvidia Grid’s 50 games and PlayStation Now’s even larger library, but the service’s current trump card is its imminent launch on a wider variety of devices than any other. current whatsoever. streaming service for games. “We will definitely be on other platforms,” Hodess said, and while he didn’t offer a timeline, he noted that Playcast’s original app, already available on Ouya systems and select smart TVs, will change to GameFly Streaming ” the upcoming months.”
Update: While GameFly Streaming’s site says the service is “coming soon,” the app did indeed launch on Amazon’s App Store, currently exclusive to Amazon Fire TV boxes. We downloaded and installed the app on Tuesday morning on our own Fire TV unit and ran it on Wi-Fi, after which the app suggested plugging in an Ethernet cable to improve performance, even if we switched to the 5Ghz one. signal from our router.
With an Ethernet cable connected, we were told that the app had improved to a 720p signal streaming at 8Mbps – which seemed a bit annoying for our test unit’s gigabit connection. However, the menus, whose button tapping showed a touch of lag, didn’t seem to reach 720p resolution, nor did the games, which suffered from some pretty severe visual artifacts.
Good news: users get ten minutes of free demos per game, which we think is a fair offer for people looking to test streaming performance on their home connections. We put three games to the test: 2D fighting game BlazBlue, 3D car game Ridge Racer limitlessAnd Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX. All of these suffered from noticeable but inconsistent moments of lag; this was forgivable in some cases, but since Pac-Man reached ridiculous speeds in that game’s updated, remixed modes, we absolutely couldn’t compensate for making tight turns and grabbing last-second power pellets.
That was a deal breaker for us, especially when connected to this cloud gaming service with one of the best consumer internet connections currently available to Americans. We can’t even imagine how an average Time Warner or Comcast customer would fare. Since this cloud gaming service has been around as a Playcast for over a year, we don’t count this among the first jitters either.