- Electronic Arts is the latest video game company to begin tests for a cloud gaming service with the intention of streaming high-end video games to smartphones and other devices.
- Ken Moss, EA’s chief technology officer, revealed that EA will launch a technical test for the service, which is codenamed Project Atlas. Players will be able to choose from a selection of four games including “FIFA 19.”
- Other cloud gaming competitors include Google’s Stadia, which will launch in November, and Microsoft’s Project xCloud, which will begin tests in October.
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Electronic Arts announced on Monday an upcoming technical test for Project Atlas, the video game publisher’s cloud gaming service. Cloud gaming is a burgeoning technology that allows players to stream games directly to their computer, phone, and other devices, removing the need for expensive consoles.
When it launches, Project Atlas will compete with cloud gaming services from major tech companies like Google and Microsoft. In November Google will launch Stadia, an entirely cloud-based gaming platform, and Microsoft has offered public demos of Project xCloud, a service that will stream games from a cloud-based machine and allow Xbox-owners to stream games from their home console.
EA revealed plans for Project Atlas in October 2018 but has remained relatively quiet about the details until now. EA’s Chief Technical Officer Ken Moss revealed that Project Atlas was preparing for a technical test in a blog post on Monday, and welcomed the public to sign up for a chance to play.
To get into Project Atlas, you’ll need to sign up for EA’s free community play-testing.
“Cloud gaming is coming. It’s no longer a question of if, but when,” Moss wrote. “It’s still really early days but we’re excited to take this next step in our learning, and it’s great to be able to do it with some of you in our community.”
Volunteers can sign up for EA’s community play-testing for a chance to be included in the technical test. The technical test isn’t available yet but it will include four games: “FIFA 19,” “Titanfall 2,” “Need for Speed Rivals,” and “Unravel.” Each of the games belongs to a different genre, giving both EA and the players who volunteer a chance to experience how playing over a streaming connection impacts different types of games. It’s unclear if the service will be exclusive to PC or available on other devices.
The primary goal of cloud gaming is to let gamers play their games across a variety of devices, but these services require a strong, stable internet connection to offer the kind of experience you get from a console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Game streaming services like Project Atlas must balance visual quality with responsive controls.
Delivering a constant video feed without delayed controls is a careful balancing act, especially given the varying quality of internet providers across North America and the rest of the world. Project Atlas will make use of Amazon Web Services to deliver games across the globe.
While cloud gaming removes the need for expensive consoles, it requires a significant investment in network infrastructure. Google’s Stadia will use about 15.75 GB of data per hour to stream at maximum quality, and even the lowest recommended settings will use 4.5 GB per hour.
Stadia recommends a minimum download speed of 10 mbps for the lowest streaming quality, and 35 Mbps for 4K streaming. 4G mobile download speeds vary based on location but average about 22 mbps across major carriers, according to data from Open Signal.
It will a while before we know the pricing details of Project Atlas, but it will likely be subscription-based.
If successful, EA will be able to reach more players than ever with Project Atlas and profit off its massive back catalogue of games without needing to update them for new consoles. Electronic Arts already offers a $5 monthly subscription service called Origin Access that gives players access to more than 200 games, and Project Atlas will be able to stream many of those games directly to players.
Pricing details for cloud gaming services will likely vary based on the company. Stadia will cost $10 per month for access to 4K streaming when it launches but 1080p streaming will be available for free in February 2019. Players will still need to purchase games for Stadia, or subscribe to a service like EA’s Origin Access or Ubisoft’s uPlay for a library of games.