With Black Friday and Christmas around the corner, you’re probably hitting Amazon harder than ever. But what if you could put down the shopping cart and pick up a controller?
Rumors have been growing about Amazon entering into the gaming arena. We’re now starting to get confirmation of what their gaming service will be like and what it will offer to gamers.
Wondering if Amazon can “deliver” on games? Check out our guide to discover everything we know about Amazon’s upcoming gaming service.
Let’s start with the obvious: how do we know that Amazon is getting into gaming in the first place?
There were reports as early as January 2019 that Amazon was quietly working on a gaming platform. Amazon is currently playing its cards close to the vest and has not made any formal announcements, but there are some very telling clues.
For example, Amazon listed job posting this month hiring for a “New AWS Gaming Initiative.” “AWS” stands for “Amazon Web Services,” making it apparent Amazon wants to add gaming to its many offerings.
We should give Amazon credit: when they swing, they swing for the fences. That particular job posting claims they want to create a world “where everyone is a gamer and every gamer can create, compete, collaborate and connect with others at massive scales.”
While they may just be talking a big game, we’re excited to see what this corporate giant will bring to the table.
Now that we know Amazon’s gaming service is coming, that leaves an obvious question: when will we be able to play it?
Early reporting claimed that Amazon wouldn’t launch any earlier than 2020, so don’t expect this to be a late 2019 Christmas gift. And they may want to wait until 2021, both to give themselves time to work on the tech and to avoid competing with the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 5.
There’s a fairly big elephant in the room, and we’re going to go ahead and say what all of you are thinking. “What the hell does Amazon know about making video games?” As it turns out, more than you might think!
Back in 2014, Amazon made a cool game called The Unmaking. While the graphics are neat, the game mostly served as a technical demonstration that Amazon could create a cloud game that plays smoothly on simple devices such as their own Fire tablets.
And Amazon Web Services technology has brought many games and apps to life, including the most popular battle royale game of all time.
The Fortnite Connection
Earlier, we mentioned AWS. But what exactly is Amazon Web Services?
It’s a cloud-computing service that powers a ton of apps and games every day. In fact, AWS powers Fortnite!
Of course, while Amazon provides the tech solution, it still took talent from Epic Games to bring Fortnite to life. But if Amazon is looking to hire key talent and they already have solid tech in place, they may be able to hit the ground running.
The big buzzword around Amazon’s gaming service is one that you’ve likely been hearing a lot of lately: “cloud-based.” But what does this mean, especially for hardcore gamers?
With traditional gaming, you have a gaming console or PC that runs the game. And the graphics and performance you get are really only limited by how powerful the machine is.
In cloud gaming, devices like your smartphone aren’t actually running the game. Instead, the game is running on a remote server and streaming to your device.
The upside of this is that you have really great graphics on very simple devices. However, cloud-based gaming is only as good as your internet connection. At slower speeds, the whole idea of streaming from a remote server falls apart.
Competing With Google
If all of this talk about cloud-based gaming sounds familiar, you can blame Google. Right now, Google Stadia is the biggest name in cloud gaming.
While we have seen serious cloud efforts such as PlayStation Now (which launched in 2014), there were limitations (such as only playing on your PlayStation 4 or PC). With Google Stadia, the big gimmick is that just about any device can become a gaming system.
Were Google to do it right, they could have the ultimate gaming service: one that turns your smartphone into a game system to rival the Nintendo Switch. That’s why Amazon wants in, although Google had some pretty big stumbles when Stadia launched.
Google Stadia: Early Players, Early Problems
In some ways, Google Stadia was our first glimpse at whether or not cloud gaming could be a major player in the gaming industry. Sadly, the shiny new technology received a very frosty reception.
Forbes went so far as to call this launch “a disaster.” So, what went wrong? First of all, speed was an issue. Your entire gaming experience comes down to how fast your connection is. Many users and professional reviewers found everything mostly unplayable due to connection variables they had no control over.
Stadia pricing is also problematic. You must pay $10 a month right now to play. At launch, only 12 games are available to play on Google Stadia, and some of these games cost as much as their console counterparts: $60. Only one launch game is available to play for free, Destiny 2.
Long story short? You must be willing to pay full price for a game you don’t physically own and an additional $10 a month just to play it. And if you have a poor internet connection, you’re plunking down a lot of money for something you can’t truly play.
In the long term, this could be good news for Amazon gaming because they can learn from Google’s mistakes. But in the worst case, Google may poison the well and damage cloud gaming’s reputation beyond repair.
The Streaming Connection
So, if companies like Google and Sony (and pretty soon Microsoft with their Xcloud coming in 2020) are all doing cloud gaming, we have one last question: what will set Amazon’s service apart?
Remember that job posting? It specifically mentioned live streaming as part of their gaming vision. Considering that Amazon owns Twitch, chances are that we are going to see some built-in integration that makes it easy to become a streamer on the Amazon platform.
Of course, Google owns YouTube, and many think that Stadia is their way of keeping game streaming on YouTube a going concern. Assuming that Stadia survives that long, we may see a Google/Amazon showoff that definitively determines whether Twitch or YouTube is the king of the stream.