A recent article from the New York Times confirmed what experts had long predicted – that Amazon is about to enter the streaming arena with its own version of Cloud gaming, apparently code-named Project Tempo.
Cloud gaming is predicted to have healthy growth over the next few years, with some analysts forecasting that the industry will be worth $8 billion by 2025. As such, it’s not a huge shocker that Amazon wants a slice of the pie.
Speaking with Trusted Reviews back in February, former game designer and current industry expert at GamesAnalysts.com, Patrick Rose, said it was possible that Amazon would launch or announce a new gaming service before we saw the next generation of consoles.
Related: Read our Google Stadia review
But missteps by previous companies (we’re looking at you, Google) has shown that launching a new cloud gaming project isn’t always easy. And Rose said that if Amazon is to succeed, it has to avoid the same pitfalls.
“They will need to learn from Google Stadia’s mistakes, especially in terms of marketing, accessibility and pricing model,” said Rose. “If Amazon succeeds, their services might not become a serious competitor for the upcoming console generation right away. They could, however, potentially target an even greater audience outside the niche of classic gamers, including mobile gamers, ‘generation Fortnite’, or even complete non-gamers who could be attracted to the platform.”
Related: Best PC Games 2020
Here’s what we think Amazon would need to deliver to take on the likes of Stadia and GeForce now.
An offline mode
There’s nothing like packing up your mobile for a train journey, sitting down and treating yourself to two hours of uninterrupted gaming on the way to your destination.
Except Stadia doesn’t let you do that. Unlike other streaming services such as Netflix, which lets you download shows through its app, you can only play when you have a solid online connection on Stadia. It’d be nice if Amazon made sure this was a guaranteed feature on any future app.
Obviously, this method of play would require ample storage on your chosen device, although a number of laptops, mobiles and tablets have enough space to accommodate such a feature.
A bigger range of compatible phones
When Stadia first launched, it was only available on a handful of Pixel models. Admittedly this has now expanded to a few other brands, but you still can’t play games via Stadia on a huge range of popular handsets, which is a frustration for paying users.
You also can’t get it on any iOS device, which seems kind of nuts given the popularity of the iPhone. Admittedly, this could be a case of Google snubbing all non-Android devices, but it feels like an oversight when there were 7.1 million iPhones sold in the UK alone last year.
A better pricing strategy
The basic version of Google Stadia is now free, so you can buy games as normal and play on your phone or browser.
But you’ll need to fork out an additional £69 for a Chromecast Ultra if you want to play on your TV and a lot of the AAA titles on Stadia are cheaper elsewhere.
For example, when we reviewed the service, Mortal Kombat 11 was priced at £49.99 on Stadia but was available for less than £30 on the PS4 and Xbox One.
Nvidia’s GeForce Now service has managed to get around the pricing problem by allowing you to port over games via Steam, Epic and Origin, so you’re not restricted to buying from one store. It would be great if Amazon could find an innovative way to match this.
Better community integration
One of the key things unveiled in the Time’s interview was an Amazon project to blend interactive games with Twitch, breaking down the division between streamer and observer.
Speaking about the upcoming feature, Mike Frazzini, Amazon’s vice president for game services and studios said: “We love this idea that you have a player, a streamer and a viewer all sharing in this synchronous interactive environment of Twitch.”
Google had previously said that a similar feature was coming to Stadia, which would allow viewers of a live stream to join games directly. But this Crowd Play feature hasn’t appeared on the service yet.
If Amazon manages to successfully (and smoothly) roll out this function before Google does, then it could win itself a loyal crowd of both streamers and gamers, who are looking to play together.