Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service launched on November 19th (and you probably shouldn’t buy into it just yet), but we’re already hearing more about Amazon’s rumored entry into the space. CNET reports that Amazon is planning to announce its own cloud gaming service next year. CNET’s story corroborates a January report from The Information, which first revealed the existence of the service and said that it likely wouldn’t launch until 2020 at the earliest.
Job listings have also given us some evidence that Amazon has a cloud gaming service on the way. The company has been hiring for a “new initiative” in its Amazon Web Services team (AWS underpins many cloud-based services you use every day) that, according to CNET’s sources, is involved with the new gaming service. One job posting found by CNET apparently says that Amazon plans to integrate the service with Twitch, which sounds similar to Google’s eventual plans for integrating Stadia and YouTube.
The Verge found a job listing that’s up right now for a “Principal Product Leader” for a “New AWS Gaming Initiative.” The listing doesn’t reveal any details about what the service might look like, but it does contain, uh, a pretty bold statement about Amazon’s gaming ambitions:
We believe the evolution that began with arcade communities a quarter at a time, growing to the live streams and e-sports of today, will continue to a future where everyone is a gamer and every gamer can create, compete, collaborate and connect with others at massive scales.
After The Information’s original report in January, The Verge previously found two job listings for engineers that would work on “Cloud Games,” including one listing that explicitly mentioned some kind of new games business.
Though you may not think of Amazon as a gaming company, it makes some sense that it wants to make a cloud gaming service and that it understands the massive potential for such a service. AWS already powers much of the internet (including huge games like Fortnite), which means Amazon already has a massive amount of infrastructure and streaming know-how at its disposal that it could use to try to make a reliable cloud gaming service. Amazon also owns Twitch, an incredibly popular live-streaming service, which probably gives Amazon a lot of intel about the types of games people might spend hours playing every single day.
Amazon has experimented with cloud gaming before. Check out this video of a hybrid Amazon cloud game where you wield a giant crossbow that’s running on an Amazon Fire tablet to fight back hordes of enemies that are created by remote servers. The graphics look a little dated, but keep in mind that the game, made by Amazon’s own Amazon Game Studios, was released all the way back in 2014:
Five years later, perhaps Amazon feels the technology to power cloud gaming is in a good enough place to attempt to make a more comprehensive service.
Amazon and Google aren’t the only companies making a serious run at cloud gaming, of course. It’s quickly becoming a hot new battleground for tech companies, even if it’s not exactly a new idea. Early players Gaikai and OnLive were acquired by Sony to help it better power its PlayStation Now service, and Nvidia has been testing GeForce Now for years.
But now, more companies are jumping into the fray, and there soon could be a dizzying number of cloud gaming choices to pick from. Microsoft’s Project xCloud service, now in preview, has more than 50 games. EA held a two-week test of its Project Atlas cloud gaming service in September. Code on a Valve website mentions something called “Steam Cloud Gaming.” Nintendo has tested streaming games to the Switch in Japan. In January, The Verge reported that Verizon is testing Verizon Gaming on the Nvidia Shield. And even Walmart is apparently exploring its own cloud gaming service.
2020 is shaping up to be a big year for cloud gaming, and Amazon could be one of the big players.