There are several systems that allow users to stream games across devices and wifi networks; PlayStation Vita, Nvidia Shield, and many others announced at CES are pushing into this category. Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machines made headlines at CES, but this In-Home streaming flew under the radar and is only now being reported on. It allows users to stream games from a powerful desktop PC onto laptops and other steam devices that are synced on the same wi-fi network and steam account. It’s OS agnostic, so long as the game in question is as well. You can even utilize non-steam apps like Photoshop on different computers across the network, so long as you add them to Steam. Of course, it’s still in beta and needs to be ironed out before it’s ready for the prime time, but it’s yet another indication of companies catering to users’ demand to access their content across devices, when and where they want it. It’s only a matter of time before this type of media access is the norm.
Twitch, dubbed the “ESPN of Gaming,” has just raised $20 million to help maintain its 45 million monthly viewers. That’s over double its user base from just one year ago, and that number is only rising. The increasing popularity of electronic games, and their competitive applications, is fueling Twitch’s growth, as they’re the best and most widely-utilized game streaming service. There are over 600,000 broadcasters – or gamers who share their screens – and what’s more, Twitch viewers are some of the most engaged across any medium, with over 100 average minutes every day logged by the viewers. Indeed, at its most potent moment, Twitch was streaming live to over 1 million viewers, simultaneously. Even with all of the positive press, the viewing infrastructure has been severely lacking, with their Google Play rating at 3.1 stars. Nonetheless, the new money should help propel the new favorite game-streaming medium to new heights, from its current dominant position.
The famous digital game store, Steam, announced a Family Sharing plan that allows customers to authorize multiple devices to access their libraries of lendable game titles. In the same way that you can loan a physical copy of a book or a game, you can now lend digital downloads with others, making purchase decisions that much more informed. Is this limitless, you might ask? Well, yes. Your library can only be accessed by one person at a time, so if you want to log in and play a game, anybody else using your games will have to exit and log out (or just buy it for themselves). The program will go into limited beta next week, and it will be important to think about how brands and companies might be able to promote new games through this system when it gets further built out.
Microsoft quietly announced Xbox Music Web client – simply by activating the service at music.xbox.com. The web client bears similarities to the recently rennovated web app for Windows 8.1, but is less feature-dense than its native version. The service is currently ad-free, and it grabs a user’s music and puts it into playlists and collections that are pre-arranged online. Users can then edit, add, and alter their collections and playlists – with the results synced across clients. One thing missing is a radio-mode, which sets its competitors apart for the time being. But it’s easy to see this service coming in the near future.
Google took social gaming to the next level with its Augmented Reality adventure game, “Ingress,” and it recently partnered with Duane Reade to expand its boundaries inside of the pharmacy’s locations throughout New York. In brief, Ingress is a sci-fi AR game for Android handsets where the player collects exotic matter (XM) to be spent at other locations, known as portals – which can be found at accessible public locations like libraries or subway stations – to unlock missions. Now, players can pick up that XM or start new missions in Duane Reade stores. Each Duane Reade location will have a participation sticker outside, alerting gamers that game items are hidden inside. Once gathered, players can scan the asset for one-time use codes or in-game weapons, adding a live-action scavenger hunt aspect to the game. Zipcar and Jamba Juice were already ahead of the NYC-based Pharmacy chain in partnering on Ingress, creating an advertising strategy for Google that’s specifically designed to combat in-game banner ads. The game is currently in closed beta, but when it goes public it has the potential to bring AR to Android users in a very tangible manner.
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